Review: Dizzying Ayckbourn play is a warm-hearted treat at the Criterion

Pete Meredith as Harold and Georgia Kelly as Poopay in Communicating Doors
Pete Meredith as Harold and Georgia Kelly as Poopay in Communicating Doors

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Communicating Doors at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry

Time, they say, changes everything. It certainly does in this mind-bendingly tricky farce-cum-thriller-cum comedy, Communicating Doors, by Alan Ayckbourn.

To have characters slip on and off stage through various doors is a stock theatrical device, but here they manage to move through time too. It’s never made clear quite how they do this. No visible space-time continuum exists here. Instead we have a single hotel room, visited in 1981, 2001 and 2021. Georgia Kelly is Poopay, a professional dominatrix. She arrives to give dodgy millionaire Reece (Alan Fenn) a once-over. Reece, however isn’t after a bit of hanky spanky but wants a witness to a confession.

The introduction sends her off on a dizzying journey through time, facilitated by a revolving door, stage left. On the way she meets Ruella, Reece’s second wife, back in 2001, who she warns is about to be murdered by Julian, Reece’s long time business partner, and a nasty geezer. Ruella figures out how things are and steps into the time warp to avert the inevitable. Further slippages lead them to Jessica, Reece’s first wife, in 1981, who likewise is warned of her forthcoming demise some seven years hence.

Georgia Kelly is the centre-piece of the play. She and Ruella develop a solid partnership to see off the wicked old Reece. Karen Evans is clever as the not so dim Jessica, who rounds off the plot. Neil Vallance is sinister as the mysterious Julian, and Pete Meredith is hilarious as the bemused security guard Harold.

Thank goodness for girl power. This is a warm-hearted play that suggests that good can triumph over evil, though quite how is another matter.

* Communicating Doors runs until Saturday July 1. Call 024 7667 4719 to book.