Tag Archives: Alan Ayckbourn

REVIEW: Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

This was meant to be The 39 Steps – however due to the indisposition of one of the actors due to an eye injury ( I’d like to imagine the understudy punched him to get the lead role) this was, at the last minute, switched to Alan Ayckbourn’s time travelling comedy drama Communicating Doors.

Three women. One hotel suite. In 1992, one is on her honeymoon night. In 2012, one is about to be murdered. In 2032, one discovers that a communicating door holds the key to all their destinies . . .

When Poopay, a self-styled ‘Specialist Sexual Consultant’, is summoned to a five star hotel, it transpires that her elderly client isn’t interested in her usual services. Instead, the conscience-stricken Reece wants her to witness his dying confession: that many years before, he employed his business associate, Julian, to murder his two wives.

When he learns of the confession, the deranged Julian decides that Poopay must be silenced permanently. Terrified, Poopay flees through the communicating door, only to find that it leads not into an adjacent room, but back into the same suite . . . twenty years before on the very night that wife number two is about to die.

This reviewer has a chequered history with Ayckbourn’s plays. His output is often very much of its time and revivals of his work often seem badly dated.  After an over-long set up this however turned into an absorbing evening’s entertainment with deft acting and storytelling keeping the story arc cohesive and engaging.

On the down side, one point of weakness is the staging: the setting here is 1992 and the 2012 of the play is the future. Possibly due to a slightly outdated set decoration (the actual design which incorporated the time-travelling door was cleverly done) but without significant decorative differences across the years this wasn’t conveyed as well as it could have been. For Pitlochry this is a surprise as it’s usually known for phenomenally inventive set design.

This Ayckbourn play has fared better than most and provides as many laughs as suspenseful moments. Worth a visit.

Runs until 11th October – Pitlochry Festival Theatre details here

REVIEW: Henceforward – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

It’s sometime quite soon . . .

Jerome is a serious avant-garde composer. He`s written string quartets, a ‘cello sonata. Unfortunately, he`s best known for the soundtrack of the infamous Singing Babies TV commercial . . .

Even worse, ever since his bank manager wife Corinna left him, taking their daughter with her, Jerome has suffered from creative block. Locked inside his fortress flat, he now lives surrounded by TV screens, computers and synthesizers, with just one companion: NAN 300F, a robot nanny who seems almost human, despite being perpetually on the blink. Well, the manufacturer did have to withdraw the entire range after that ‘unfortunate incident’ . . .

Desperate to gain custody of his daughter, but knowing that this unconventional lifestyle is unlikely to endear him to the Department of Child Wellbeing, Jerome hires out-of-work actress Zoë to pose as his fiancée and play happy families for the benefit of Mervyn Bickerdyke, the Child Welfare Officer.

But things with Zoë go horribly wrong – just as Mervyn and Corinna are on their way to examine Jerome’s stable new home environment – and Jerome is forced to improvise. You know, it’s amazing what you can do with a robot, a few micro-chips and a screwdriver . . .

Alan Ayckbourn’s play unfortunately doesn’t stand up to the ravages of time and has dated – badly. It’s not helped by the fact the central character, though well enough acted, had no redeeming features. Ultimately it all left me a little bit cold.