Communicating Doors: World Premiere Reviews

This page contains a selection of reviews from the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1994. All reviews are the copyright of the respective publication and / or author. Extracts from reviews of the original London production can be found here.

Miss Whiplash meets Up With Murder (by Charles Spencer)
"The great thing about Alan Ayckbourn is that he has never lost his ability to spring a surprise. Even as I write, earnest post-graduates are probably polishing off theses showing how his work has grown wilder, darker and more experimental over the years. I'm afraid they will have to be rewritten.
Communicating Doors, which has just opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, is unashamedly popular entertainment, a comedy thriller with echoes of Psycho and Doctor Who. And though there are some memorably scary moments, the final mood is movingly upbeat. In recent years Ayckbourn often seems to have despaired of the human race and its endless capacity for cruelty, but here he has created a touching and wonderfully funny fable in which darkness is triumphantly vanquished.
The action is all set in a swanky hotel suite in London, beautifully realised in Roger Glossop's swish design. But as so often in Ayckbourn's work, things aren't quite what they seem. The drama opens in 2014, with London ravaged by bombs and civil war. Even Big Ben has been blown up.
The Regal Hotel is an oasis of opulent calm, however, until Poopay, a hilarious dominatrix in leather bondage gear, arrives on the scene. Sadly her client, Reece Wells, is well beyond the perverse pleasures of the flesh. He's about to snuff it and before he goes, he wants a witness to his confession of despicable business practices and the way he had his two wives murdered by his sinister colleague, Julian.
Unfortunately, Reece starts to croak on the carpet, Julian returns and, realising that the prostitute knows too much, attempts to kill her. Poopay escapes through the suite's communicating doors, only to find that the year is now 1994, and the room is occupied by Reece's splendidly feisty second wife Ruella, on the very night she is due to be bumped off. And when Ruella in turn goes through the doors, she finds herself back in 1974, on the night of Reece's honeymoon with his Sloaney first wife, Jessica.
The play turns into an ingenious, time-hopping bedroom farce, with the three women desperately scheming to outwit the psychopathic Julian and save themselves from a sticky end. The pace is relentless, the jokes excellent, the twists and turns of the plot beautifully crafted. Best of all, this is a comedy thriller that really thrills.
The performances are first rate. Adie Allen, tottering on her stilettos, is wonderfully funny and touching as the tender hearted tart, while Liz Crowther turns Ruella into a delightfully spunky heroine. Richard Durden's Julian is every bit as creepy as he should be, and there's a lovely comic performance from Nick Stringer as a bewildered security man.
Communicating Doors may lack the depth of Ayckbourn's greatest plays, but he has rarely written anything that offers more pure fun than this. And in the closing moments he comes up with a beautifully haunting scene of recognition and redemption that brings unexpected tears to the eyes. After 46 plays, he remains in a class of his own."
(Daily Telegraph, 4 February 1994)

A Gentle Triumph (by Robin Thornber)
"Alan Ayckbourn's new play,
Communicating Doors, is set in the luxury suite of a London hotel in 1994, in 1974 and in 2014. The communicating doors of the title lead, not to an adjoining room, but through a time warp into a different period. J B Priestley rides again.
Ayckbourn's intriguing original contribution to the theory of time-travel is that if it's possible, then it's also possible to alter the course of events with the advantage of hindsight.
The play opens in the year 2014 with civil war raging outside. A dying businessman summons a call girl to witness his confession to a career of ruthless rip-offs including murdering his two wives for their money through his unscrupulous sidekick.
Escaping the sinister associate through the communicating door - and armed with the confession - the girl finds herself back in the same room on the night of the second wife's murder and just in time to prevent it. The second wife - an archetypal Ayckbourn voice, the decent redoubtable middle-class matron - finds the communicating doors take her back to 1974 and her husband's first honeymoon.
I won't reveal how the three women conspire to change things with the help of an uncomprehending hotel security officer. It's enough that by the end of the play all three lives run different, happier, courses - making the confession that started it all entirely irrelevant. But in that case, how did the call girl come to intervene in the first place?
The play has its flats spots and its moments when credulity is overstretched. It's an evening of gentle smiles rather than guffaws. But Ayckbourn's obsession with how things could have been different if only... again proves a fascinating theme.
His production at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in Scarborough is a masterly piece of stagecraft. Roger Glossop's setting lit by Mick Hughes, re-creates the bland style of hotel plush down to the working bidet. And the company - Adie Allen, Liz Crowther, Richard Durden, John Hudson, Sara Markland and Nick Stringer - relish their roles.
Ayckbourn is apparently now working on another four plays which will notch up his half century."
(The Guardian, 8 February 1994)

Past Master (by Jeremy Kingston)
"Alan Ayckbourn occasionally still writes a play that begins, say, in the morning and continues in the afternoon, and ends in the evening, where all these times belong to the same day, in the same year, and happen in the same place. Man of the Moment was a recent example.
But far more frequently he takes his characters backwards or forwards in time, or bothwards, or uses the same space to represent different places, or stitches different times together into the same time. Hitherto, so far as I recall, the jumps in time have been theatrical contrivances, ingenious four-dimensional jigsaws from our point of view, but fragments of ordinary life so far as the characters are concerned.
With his latest play, the 46th (in 35 years' writing), Poopay, a strutting dominatrix, hides in a hotel cupboard in 2014 and steps out into October 1994. She is fleeing from Julian (Richard Durden), the wicked business partner of Reece (John Hudson), who has murdered Reece's first two wives and is seconds away from killing Poopay because of what she knows.
The senile Reece, himself seconds away from a heart-attack, has written a confession of his business crimes and entrusted her with this dangerous document. So here she is, 20 years earlier, in the same room of the Regal Hotel, face to face with Ruella, Reece's still unmurdered second wife. Ruella, in her turn, will step into the same cupboard and emerge in 1974, interrupting Jessica (Sara Markland), Reece's first wife, on her wedding night.
Unlike the characters in his other jigsaw plays, the women here become aware that they are time-travelling. They are limited to one 20-year leap apiece, though Ruella wonders if a relay team might take them back to Shakespeare. To which Poopay comments, "Yeah. To be or not to be - pass it on."
The genre to which
Communicating Doors belongs is as composite as the timescale - though Roger Glossop's set confirms my suspicion that hotel chains never change their fringed green sofas from one decade to the next. At first the play's style is indeterminable, packed, as it is, with plot data. Without Adie Allen's energetic display of streetwise fortitude, this opening scene would be tough-going. (There will be state registered brothels in 2014, by the way, even though Big Ben has been blown up and Croydon is at war with Lewisham.)
From this beginning the play becomes a thriller, and then a comedy thriller, on its way to an unexpectedly gracious ending. What Ayckbourn dangles before us is the old daydream that if we could only go back and change something (stop a murder, in this case), our lives might be different. A dead wife would still be living, for one thing, but also a man might be able to shed a life of crime. Significantly, the thinly drawn Reece and the security man (Nick Stringer), whose lives are both improved, do not change by their own effort, but through the enterprise of the women.
The gravity Allen shows developing in Poopay's character prepares the ground for a convincing transformation. The play does not show Ruella's development, but Liz Crowther creates a delightfully credible portrait of brisk impatience and panic.
Like any daydream, there is not much substance to take home afterwards, and perhaps Ayckbourn, who also directs, can only arrive at a happy end by way of fantasy. But he has not lost the knack of springing surprises, nor of making us suspend disbelief in the impossible."
(The Times, 4 February 1994)

A Nice Job In The Construction Industry (by Paul Taylor)
"A recent survey by the Little Theatres Guild brought winding news for Alan Ayckbourn. It appears that last year Shakespeare managed to pull level with him in terms of the number of times his pieces were performed. This posthumous honour may be short-lived, though, for Shakespeare - having declared, so to speak, at around 38 plays - is at a rapidly increasing disadvantage.
The Complete Works of Alan Ayckbourn shows no signs of being even remotely near to completion, so there's more of him to spread around. Communicating Doors, which has just opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, is his 46th play.
He's a dramatist famous for the devilish ingenuity of his construction. Not, of course, that an ingenious construct has any inherent virtue: its value depends on whether it gives an especially revealing purchase on what would otherwise remain obscure, and upon whether the specific revelation was worth the bother in the first place. The last two shows Ayckbourn brought to London (
Time of My Life, which had, by his standards, a very short life at the Vaudeville, and Wildest Dreams, which is now playing at the Pit) struck me as meeting those requirements only imperfectly.
Both plays contain brilliant passages that are brought to tragi-comic life by Ayckbourn's matchless ear for marital discord and blighted love. Their structure, however, permits both works to be altogether too systematically bleak and reductive.
Time of My Life, for example, is set in the one restaurant but proceeds in three different time-scales, moving backwards and forwards from a birthday dinner that turns out to have been the family's Last Supper together. It's a highly artificial arrangement and you hope that it will justify its oddity by guiding you to some not-easily-attainable insight.
In the event, too many of the ironies produced simply ram home what is obvious enough from the start: that the lives of both the sons of this prosperous business family will be ruined because their incorrigible need for mother's approval distorts their relations with other women. You recoil slightly from the play's agile, repetitive dogmatism, particularly given that the structure and single setting impose irritating implausibilities. Would one of the sons and his wife really lunch less than a week later at the very eaterie from which the father drove to his death?
His new play,
Communicating Doors, makes, therefore, a refreshing change. It is organised along an equally contrived time-hop sequence, but here there's no uncomfortable sense that the structure has been rigged so as to allow the audience to sit in sophisticated superiority over the protagonists. In what may well be a first in the Ayckbournian canon, the key figures in Communicating Doors are as aware as we are that they are moving around a time warp and use this knowledge, moreover, to push the comedy towards a heartening and touching conclusion.
Set throughout in the same opulent suite of the Regal Hotel, the action opens in 2014. Outside, there's a London ravaged by civil strife and bombs (Big Ben is among these for whom the bell has tolled). Inside, there's Poopay (Adie Allen), an engagingly straightforward dominatrix in leather bondage gear. Perplexed, she discovers that the only wrist-job her elderly client, Reece Wells, requires is her signature as witness to a document confessing all his business crimes and to the way he allowed his two wives to be murdered by his sinister colleague, Julian.
Unfortunately, even without sex, Reece winds up in spasm on the carpet, leaving poor Poopay, who has secreted the confession down the bidet plughole, on the run from the murderous colleague. Then something decidedly spooky happens.
Emerging from the other side of the pokey cupboard between the communicating doors, she finds herself in the same suite and, stranger still, confronted by Ruella, Reece's second wife, whose spunky spirit is delightfully conveyed by Liz Crowther. Ruella is no ghost, either. She's alive and well and living in October 1994, though not for much longer if history runs true, for this is the very day on which, the confession reveals, Julian defenestrates her.
With the same door giving Ruella access, in turn, to 1974 and to young Reece's wedding night with his first wife Jessica (Sara Markland), the play could well have been called Suite in Three Keys, if Noel Coward hadn't already nabbed the title. The author's expert comedy-thriller production is pacy and highly amusing, but the time-hopping farce has the Ayckbournian thumb-print in its sympathies as well as its structure. Significantly, it never occurs to Ruella to confront the young Reece with the damning document of his life to come, or, in effect, to play the benign witch to his Macbeth. To have wrought a change of heart in him would have been a far greater victory than the more external and involved retinkerings with history that are effected.
Ruella's instinctive appeal to the first wife rather than to him (and the way three women from different periods end up literally pulling together to outwit the menfolk), reminds you that this play is by the author of the excellent Woman in Mind and other works of powerful, if unassuming, feminism. There's a wonderful moment when Nick Stringer's smug security guard, trying to haul the interloping Ruella out of Jessica's bridal suite, says you often get that type of snoopy middle-age female pathetically trying to relive her own honeymoon. Ruella virtually explodes with derision: "You stupid little man, no woman in her right mind would want to relive her honeymoon...."
Filling out the character with a growing forlornness, Adie Allen's splendid performance as the dominatrix subliminally prepares you for the last beautiful and mysterious change in mood, the content of which I must not give away. For the spirit of the piece and the magical wish-fulfilment of the ending, you're prepared to give the niggles of contrivances (the Esher-like imponderability of the chronological curls; the odd fact that, say, the hotel decor remains unchanged over 40 years). It's when it gives you a needlessly intricate take on routine human misery that Ayckbourn's dazzling ingenuity seems misused."
(The Independent, 5 February 1994)

Theatre (by Michael Billington)
""O God," cried Shakespeare's Henry IV, "that one might read the book of fate." The proposition behind Alan Ayckbourn's
Communicating Doors - his 46th play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round is that, if one could foresee one's destiny, it might be possible to change it. It is a comforting thought, but this being Ayckbourn, it also makes for a discomforting play that is partly a pastiche of a Psycho-type thriller and partly a straightforward contest between good and evil.
Ayckbourn, Scarborough's J. B. Priestley, has always enjoyed playing with the theatrical possibilities of time, and here he does so with rich abandon. The setting is a plush London hotel suite. We first see it in the year 2014, when Poopay, a leather-clad dominatrix, witnesses a confession by a dying businessman that he has sanctioned the murder of his two wives by an associate. But Poopay discovers that the suite's communicating doors lead her into a time-warp which ushers her back to 1994 on the night of the death of wife number two, Ruella. Can Ruella, forewarned by Poopay, avoid her fate of being pushed out of the hotel window? Equally importantly, can the two women, magicked back to 1974, convince the honeymooning first wife, Jessica, that she risks suffering death by drowning in the Aegean?
This is not, as you will have gathered, one of Ayckbourn's realistic suburban comedies. It is partly a gripping bit of Grand Guignol in which two women attempt to ward off an evil killer who pads round the hotel suite like an upmarket Norman Bates: John Pattison's music even echoes the Bernard Hermann score from
Psycho. But Ayckbourn is also suggesting that forewarned is forearmed, that it is possible to change one's destiny and that we can even escape the roles life has assigned us: part of the point is that the orphaned dominatrix has by the end shed her whips and leather and become a totally different person.
Ayckbourn's theatrical inventiveness, as always, is startling. He flits between the three time periods with great skill. He produces some genuinely horrific moments, as when the hand of a dead body - don't ask me whose - suddenly reaches out of a sofa. And he constantly comes up with macabre comic images: at one point, the three women are all dangling over the ledge of the hotel suite, which the security man mistakes for some bizarre form of sexual activity. Above all, the play has the prize gift of genuinely making you want to know what will happen next: it is a long time since Ayckbourn has written such a compelling narrative.
But, hugely enjoyable as the play is, it is possible to enter a few caveats. For a start, the social background is somewhat sketchy.
Henceforward..., Ayckbourn gave us a detailed picture of a dystopian nightmare, but here he vaguely implies that by 2014 civic disturbance will have deprived us of Big Ben, and that Croydon will be at war with Lewisham. But that makes one wonder how the hotel suite has survived unchanged. It also prompts another question: if one can rewrite one's personal history, why is is that one cannot also affect the social context? There seems to be a logical flaw here: the characters are fluid, but the background is static.
I also begin to wonder about Ayckbourn's increasing preoccupation with fantasy. For
How the Other Half Loves up to the more recent Time Of My Life, he has been our sharpest and wittiest observer of marriage, morality and middle-class angst: future social historians will he able to learn much about class and sex in the late 20th century by studying his plays.
But lately, in works such as
The Revengers' Comedies, Body Language and now this time warp thriller, he has been reaching towards the gothic and grotesque. The result has always been fanciful and entertaining; but I hope, as he edges towards his theatrical half-century, he will return to charting the absurdity and desperation that underlies our social behaviours. Meanwhile, Communicating Doors - which, after its Scarborough run will go to Chicago's International Festival of Theatre - should be enjoyed for its abundant theatricality. Ayckbourn's own production is also excellently played. Adie Allen makes the Miss Whiplash of 2014 touching, attractive and vulnerable, Liz Crowther as the determined Ruella is the epitome of moral virtue, and Sara Markland as the honeymooning first wife is all aggrieved innocence. It is very much a woman's play, but Richard Durden as the mother-haunted killer has the gaunt suavity of a young Christopher Lee, and Nick Stringer is very funny as the security man, boggling at what he calls "lesbianic tendencies" and wistfully dreaming of a yacht in the Med.
In these tricky times for regional theatre, it is also good to report that the theatre was packed and plans are on target for next year's move into Scarborough's converted Odeon cinema.
I suspect that in Britain we tend to take Ayckbourn for granted: we gaily assume that each year he will come up with yet another skilfully carpentered, highly original hit play. In
Communicating Doors he seems to have done it again; and, with four new projects in the pipeline, one hopes it will fulfil his own destiny and reach 50 in time for next year's eagerly awaited Odeon Transfer."
(Country Life, 17 February 1994)

The Skull Beneath The Farce (by Irving Wardle)
Communicating Doors, Alan Ayckbourn's 46th play, is his first thriller: a logical step, given the melodramatic values that have lately invaded his comedies. In telling the story of Poopay, a dominatrix who learns to stand on her own feet, he is more engaged in showing how life can be improved than in getting laughs out of its inevitable defeats. Poopay (Adie Allen) arrives for a hotel booking in her S&M kit, only to find that the client is a mortally ill old crook who wants her to witness his confession. The date is 2014: but when she takes flight from her client's homicidal partner, she arrives in an identical hotel room in the year 1994.
Thanks to the magic doors, Poopay's adventures go back to 1974, involving a plot to rewrite the past by saving the lives of the client's two supposedly murdered wives. Compared with Ayckbourn's vision of the future in
Henceforward..., the background of this piece is sketchy. So as to change things for the better, the criminal and social detail is left inexplicit; while the hotel room, which one might expect to change, remains unaltered over 40 years. The piece, however, does exert a thrilling narrative grip, with moments of stark horror and many excellent time jokes. With Liz Crowther and Sara Markland as the wives, and Nick Stringer, hair coming and going with the years, as the hotel detective, Ayckbourn's production is extremely well cast; while Poopay, at the end of her character forming adventures, is barely recognisable as the callow hooker of the opening scene."
(Independent On Sunday, 6 February 1994)

Drama When The Veneer Cracks (by Alastair Macaulay)
"Ayckbourn has frequently made powerful comedy out of mental cruelty and nervous breakdown. After Tim Firth's
Neville's Island, I went to Scarborough expecting to see a master-class in how to handle such themes.
But what do you know? In
Communicating Doors, Ayckbourn is experimenting with different material altogether. Even the characters are, for him, unusual. Four of them are V.I.P. class, accustomed to staying in the major London West End hotel where the action occurs; and one of them is a prostitute - an expensive dominatrix clad in leather. (This play, by the way, replaces the one Ayckbourn had announced, Private Fears in Public Places: which was to have been about the changes wrought to a marital relationship by a chance encounter at an airport.)
Ayckbourn loves to develop his virtuosity as a craftsman. In
Time of My Life (another 1992 Scarborough premiere, seen in the West End in 1993), he let the action of his play move to and fro in time, spanning a period of two years. Now he takes this idea far further. When the characters of this new play step through the "communicating doors" of the title, they find themselves stepping either 20 years forward or backward: so that the play jumps from 2014 to 1994 to 1974. Can people step back in time and rewrite the past (like Superman stopping the world and setting it into reverse)? Ayckbourn keeps us in suspense about this until well into Act Two.
To my surprise, I found that Ayckbourn of
Communicating Doors reminded me of the virtuoso baroque playwrights who delighted in the play-within-the-play and the world-within-a-world (Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream and elsewhere, Corneille in The Illusion, Lope de Vega in The Great Pretenders) - for Ayckbourn shuttles not only between decades but between genres too. Are we watching science fiction about time travellers? Or a thriller about high placed men using women and then trying to kill them? Or a farce about who will get caught in whose room? Ayckbourn keeps juggling.
But you cannot really get involved in the world of the magnate Reece, his sinister pal Julian, and his first and second wives Ruella and Jessica. At times the play's clevernesses seem designed mainly to distract us from the emotional thinness at its core. The more you admire its structural dexterity, the more you sense its basic frivolity.
Ayckbourn has some fun, of course, about the year 2014, with talk of prostitutes being state-controlled ("I'm public, not private"), of the new fad for Virtual Sex ("with a mouse in one hand and a joy-stick in the other"), and of English civil war ("Do you think this truce will last?" "There'll be no more trouble from Lewisham. It's just Croydon being difficult now."). Yet, though there are good jokes throughout the play, it is disappointing to realise how few of them were organic. (The best such, hilarious in context, occurs as Ruella and Poupay [sic], in 1994, try to plan retrieving a document from 2014 and delivering it to 1974. "It's a kind of relay," suggests Ruella. "Yeah," says Poupay [sic], "I can't wait. To-be-or-not-to-be: pass it on.")
Ayckbourn himself has directed. Things are held together by the zest and edge of Liz Crowther as Ruella, and (after a shallow start) Adie Allen as Poupay [sic], the nationalised dominatrix. The other performances are so thin as to be virtually see-through. And, when you do see through, all you see is just another of Mr A's maze plays: amazing, more or less, but only casually absorbing."
(Financial Times, 5 February 1994)

Communicating Doors (by Alfred Hickling)
"Difficult to know precisely where you are with Alan Ayckbourn's 46th full length play.
Difficult to be sure, in fact, when you are in this bizarre psychotic fantasy on murder mystery themes, in which a frantic syndicate of potential female victims play an elaborate game of pass-the-plot across an increasingly complicated network of 20-year time shifts.
The play proves, if nothing else, that hotel decor does not become any more tasteful or less amorphous in the period between 1974 and 2014. The characters consistently spill out of a mysteriously time-manipulating pair of communicating doors into exactly the same suite they vacated moments, or possibly even decades, before.
So absorbing is it that you leave through the same peculiar portal, rather ominously placed at the audience exit, half expecting to wander into the boys' assembly which would have been taking place before this converted school became a theatre.
Alternatively, one might discover the bar had turned into a technical college, the Stephen Joseph set-up having long since successfully completed its move up the road to the Odeon.
If you think this is confusing, just imagine what life must be like for the characters. To provide a critical summary of the plot would be about as courteous as supplying the final page in an Agatha Christie novel, but suffice it to say that this excellent and fiercely intelligent entertainment is full of cheekily pinched Alfred Hitchcock references, brilliantly underscored by John Pattison's eerie music.
One sees a fully-equipped bathroom on stage and one simply knows it has not been put there for the actors' general cleanliness.
Among the six-strong cast, Adie Allen is superb as the fetishistically clad Poopay Dayseer, the dominatrix who rather rapidly loses the whip hand on things, Liz Crowther as Ruella, besieged by past and future both at once, and Sara Markland who exists as a rather dim-witted 1970s baby doll in a grossly unfashionable powder-blue nightie.
A hilarious evening full of bumps, jumps and surprises. And Ayckbourn holds the biggest revelation up his sleeve until last - his first happy ending in who knows how many years."
(Yorkshire Post, 4 February 1994)

Audience Put In Suspense By Women In Suspenders (by Charles Hutchinson)
"Ayckbourn first nights are always special, happy in the knowledge that for once the theatrical event of the week is not in London, but a Yorkshire coastal resort.
Last night was all the more so, thanks to the presence of the men in suits from the Commons' Heritage select committee, Gerald Kaufman among them.
Alan Ayckbourn himself took up his familiar perch behind a ledge. It would have made an ideal place to duck down, you thought, as the scares ensued in a new venture for Britain's most successful playwright, a comedy thriller.
This form of entertainment has been neglected by theatre since Arnold Ridley caught The Ghost Train, yet cinema has regularly plundered its well of thrills and killing humour.
Theatrically, it is difficult to pull off the effects to the same effect. But Ayckbourn, as writer and director, does so in a filmic piece that has satirical, cliché-teasing echoes of
Carrie and Psycho running through a fantastical, time-hopping story.
Communicating Doors will appeal to all those who wonder what lies beyond the locked hotel door to the next room - Ayckbourn included.
Go through a communicating door in suite 647 in the Regal Hotel, London WC2, and the date changes from July 2014 to October 1994 to May 1974.
As with Robert Zemeckis's Back To The Future movies, this access to time travel gives a chance to correct the drastic, in this case murderous, course of history.
The action starts in 2014, as leather-clad whore, sorry, special sexual consultant Poopay (insecure Adie Allen) is witnessing the confessions of Reece Wells (John Hudson). A Faustian figure, he has had his two wives killed off by business partner Julian (Richard Durden), and made his dirty fortune from commodity and arms dealing.
Open a door and Poopay finds herself with Reece's second wife Ruella (the indomitable Liz Crowther) and security man Harold (Nick Stringer) in 1994. In turn, exit Ruella and she drops in on the nuptial night of Reece and Jessica (Sara Markland) in 1974.
Gradually catching on, the three set about changing their futures and bumping off killer Julian in a battle against time (make that three times).
The story is constantly inventive, complemented by the technical wizardry of designer Roger Glossop, with Ayckbourn in lighter mood than of late.
Though a favourite theme of good versus evil courses through the play's veins, the atmosphere is often skittish, sometimes mischievous, particularly in its vision of London in 2014 where councils are at war, Big Ben has disappeared, and virtual sex is all the rage.
Communicating Doors keeps its women in suspenders and the audience in suspense on a night for being scared wittily rather than witless."
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 3 February 1994)

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.