When the play was originally written by Alan Ayckbourn, it was set in 1974, 1994 and 2014, but was altered in this production to fit the 1993, 2013 and 2033 time-frame. The majority of the time is spent in 2013 and 2033. The entire show is set in a suite in the Regal Hotel in London, England.
Talia Grzelewski stars as Phoebe, or Poopay, a 2033 dominatrix who visits an elderly businessman named Reece (Robert Clemence), who is practically on his death bed. The door is answered by Reece’s business associate Julian (David Lew Cooper), who is told to leave so that Reece and Phoebe can do business. But business doesn’t go as usual, and Phoebe is left scared and hiding for her life in the cupboard.
On the other side of that cupboard door, Phoebe comes out in the same room in 2013 when Reece’s second wife Ruella (Alexandria Pelletier) inhabited the suite. After Phoebe has a run-in with the security guard Harold (Landon Cally), Ruella checks the door to the cupboard to see what’s on the other side. She goes through only to run into a young Reece with his first wife Jessica (Jessica Parsons) on their honeymoon in 1993. Upon Ruella’s return to 2013, she realizes that the door is a portal through time in which a person either goes back in time 20 years or returns to their original time.
The acting here is absolutely amazing. Most of the comedy comes from witty jokes, but Grzelewski has moments of slapstick that are priceless. One of the actors in the show (I can’t say the name without spoiling some of the shows moments) does a fantastic job at playing someone who everyone can easily despise.
The set design is phenomenal. The half doors provide ways for the characters to move from room to room without obstructing audience views. The door through time rotates, giving it a very classic science fiction feel. The addition of the bathroom, which does have a couple major moments in the show, makes the suite really stand out. Makeup and costumes were incredible as well. Audience members commented on how they couldn’t even recognize their friends in the show.
Director Mark Liermann should be proud of his version of this British farce. The wacky, zany humor is well complimented by the science fiction and thriller elements of the show, and the cast helps tremendously with all elements. The final moments of the show definitely tug at the heart strings.
“Communicating Doors” can be seen at the D. Terry Williams Theatre in the Gilmore Theatre Complex Feb. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 at 8:00 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the Gilmore Theatre Complex box office, online at www.wmich.edu/theatre/season/tickets/ or by phone at 269-387-6222.