Ryan Beltram, EDN
Who knew a story about time travel, murder and a dominatrix could be so funny and entertaining?
“Communicating Doors,” is the latest production at The Very Little Theatre. Originally written in 1993 by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, “Doors” features six characters, three timelines and one London hotel room. Each time period features different characters who may or may not be able to meet each other, depending on how events that occurred in the past played out.
The title refers to a door in the hotel room that allows a person to travel forward or backward in time.
Like any story involving time travel, the idea of going back to change something, or prevent something bad from happening, is the central issue. While both thrilling and serious, the amount of humor in it is what you’ll remember most about this story.
It begins in 2014 with Poopay, a prostitute (or special sexual consultant as she puts it) who specializes in the more aggressive aspects of sex. She arrives to service a man named Reece.
But Reece is in no condition for any physical activity, let alone sex.
The dying and desperate old man has invited Poopay to his hotel room as a witness to his confessions of having both of his wives murdered by his assistant, Julian. With Poopay’s signature on the written confession, Reece can finally clear his guilty conscience before time runs out. Poopay signs and attempts to leave with the confession, but Julian figures out what’s going on and tries to kill her. Unable to grab the confession, she escapes through a communicating door.
Poopay steps back into the room and soon discovers it’s 1994.
She startles Ruella, the second wife of Reece who soon will be murdered. Poopay attempts to convince her of the foreboding events that will soon take place. Ruella of course has a hard time believing there’s a time-traveling door in her room and that she might be murdered, but she’s always suspected Julian of being evil. She believes he murdered his own mother.
Ruella only begins to believe Poopay when she reveals how Reece’s first wife, Jessica, died in 1981. Ruella decides she will go through the communicating door, back to 1974, in an attempt to warn Jessica of her impending death.
Of course, going back in time to change the course of events that have already occurred will change everything that happens later, but in doing so, the three women can prevent the deaths of both wives, and perhaps also take care of Julian.
Sometimes confusing, the writer and actors are well aware of this illogical environment in which they’re performing, and they use the time they have (pun intended) to play many scenes for laughs. A story like this could have been told as a straightforward thriller, but the use of humor prevents the story from ever being dull.
Each time someone goes through the magical door, what’s to come is completely unpredictable, an ingenious move on the writer’s part. When characters from the past meet characters from the present, a hilarious host of changes ensues.
Besides the outrageous plot, the cast brings an exuberant amount of energy to the story.
Leslie Murray portrays Poopay, a spunky character that’s easily likable. Kathy James LaMontagne as Ruella is the oldest and wisest of the three women, and the driving force for the whole story. Naomi Ruiz-Todd as the youngest character, Jessica, isn’t really allowed to be anything other than an innocent 1970s baby doll, but she gives the character as much boisterous enthusiasm as possible.
For the male roles, Michael Watkins stands out in his role as Julien. The character requires a perfect balance of suave manipulativeness and wicked evil, and Watkins achieves both.
Achilles Massahos plays Harold, the bumbling hotel detective who tries to keep things in order but often fails. As the authority figure in the play, Massahos is hilarious. He even gets the best physical transformation of all the characters when time shifts back to 1974. Despite being the character that sets everything in motion, Reece, played by Michael Walker, is the least featured player, but plays his role convincingly portrays as a 30-year-old and a 70-year-old.
The set features a cut-away bathroom, a rotating door and creepy music to invoke illusions of time travel. A balcony sits at the back of the set and features the funniest scene in the play.
There isn’t a lot of character development, but there doesn’t need to be.”Communicating Doors” is a great thriller filled with excitement, tension and humor that strike at just the right moments. The result is positive and touching and may make the opening irrelevant, but the story is about suspending our disbelief and enjoying the ride.
The final three shows of “Communicating Doors” will be Oct. 27-29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. The Thursday showing is $10 for all ages.