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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Communicating Doors

Alan Ayckbourn

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To purchase Communicating Doors

Title: Communicating Doors
Author: Alan Ayckbourn
Genre: Drama
Written: 1994
Length: 125 pages
Availability: Communicating Doors - US
Communicating Doors - UK
  • Communicating Doors was first performed in Scarborough at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on 2 February 1994 in a production directed by Alan Ayckbourn

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Our Assessment:

A- : ridiculous premise, but very entertaining

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
New York . 7/9/1998 John Simon
The Spectator . 12/8/1995 Sheridan Morley
Time . 14/9/1998 Richard Zoglin
The Village Voice F 1/9/1998 Michael Feingold

  From the Reviews:
  • "The time-travel gimmick is fun but hardly frivolous: the play explores matters of fate and free will, and the ability of people to control their own destiny. A clever and finally quite moving work." - Richard Zoglin, Time

  • "As usual, Ayckbourn's thought up a device, and graphed a lot of running back and forth to fit it, without bothering to make us care about the people doing the running. (...) The result is the sort of muddled horror you associate with bad English cooking, a little of every taste, but no particular flavor." - Michael Feingold, The Village Voice

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Communicating Doors is very cleverly contrived. The premise is ridiculous, but hey, it's theatre -- anything goes. The communicating doors of the title are in a hotel room, and they allow some of the characters to travel through time, returning to the same hotel room twenty years earlier. But not everybody gets transported, and not everybody gets transported to the same era. Confusing ? Perhaps, but Ayckbourn actually manages to lay it out fairly clearly, using what confusion there is to best comedic advantage.
       The play starts in 2014, in a suite at the Regal Hotel. Julian has procured a prostitute for seventy year-old Reece Welles. The girl, Phoebe, is a dominatrix (the regular girl was unavailable) who goes by the name Poopay Daysir. As it turns out, Reece doesn't want her for what she usually gets paid for -- that would: "Finish me off altogether, in my condition", he observes. Instead he wants her to witness a confession and then deliver it to trusted hands.
       Reece has been very successful in life, along with his business partner Julian, but it has come at a high cost. Two of Reece's wives were killed by Julian along the way, among other terrible deeds.
       Julian gets wise to the fact that there is a confession revealing his crimes and that Poopay knows about them, and naturally he plans to get rid of her as well. She escapes, sort of, through the infamous communicating doors, which toss her back twenty years into the same room in 1994. Ruella, Reece's first wife is there: as it happens, it's the night she is meant to die at Julian's hands.
       It takes a while for the two to figure out that there has been some time-travel involved, but Ruella comes to believe Poopay. Her own trip through the communicating doors -- sending her to Reece's 1974 honeymoon night with his first wife, Jessica -- help convince her.
       Julian, meanwhile is still after Poopay -- as well as Ruella, of course. There's some back and forth, and lots of amusing confusion and some decent suspense along the way. All's well that ends well, and Ayckbourn does knot things up very nicely.
       This is a play of strong women; the men are largely patsies. The premise is completely illogical and non-sensical, and yet Ayckbourn fashions a convincing and even touching entertainment out of it. The situations unfold very nicely, and the comedy is robust throughout. It reads well, and if well-staged must be absolutely hilarious. Recommended.

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Communicating Doors: Reviews: Alan Ayckbourn: Other books by Alan Ayckbourn under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British playwright Alan Ayckbourn was born in 1939. He has written more than fifty plays.

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