Communicating Doors

By Alan Ayckbourn


Directed by Dustin Martin
June 14 to 30, 2013


Read the Reviews:

Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Pam Seccombe

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Jonathon Bartos

Reece

Tara Cha

Jessica

Ralph Frattura

Julian

Jim Mallmann

Harold

Kelly Simon

Poopay

Stephanie Demyun Smith

Ruella

Production Staff 

Director

Dustin J. Martin

Stage Manager

Debi Mumford

Scenic Designer/Master Carpenter

Michael Talaska

Costume Designer

Aleta Bernard

Lighting Designer

Scott Fudali

Sound Designer

Aaron Schmidt

Properties Designer

Shawn Spellman

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Set Construction Crew

Kevin Erdman
Dan Szczepanski
Barbara Talaska
Becky Talaska
Patrick Talaska

WCT's 'Communicating' reaches into time warp

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
June 20, 2013

Alan Ayckbourn, a very clever, successful and prolific British playwright who has written 77 plays to date, loves to play with time and with our heads.

He did both in the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production of his “Communicating Doors.”

The creative set, created by Michael Talaska, lends itself nicely to the frequent alternating time warps, and the many doors help convey many twists and surprises in the plot.

If we had the power to see the future, would we be able to prevent some things from happening? In other words, to change someone’s destiny?

Ayckbourn seems to at least contemplate that possibility. So don’t expect total credibility. Instead, let your mind travel along on a scary, funny journey into worlds less known.

The cast consists of three men and three women. One can’t help noticing that the women are far more appealing. They are clever, strong and resourceful. Two of the men are greedy and violent, and one is harmless but rather dense.

The acting is very strong, but the role of Poopay is especially well-rendered by Kelly Simon. Her energy and histrionics are compelling. We watch her every move.

The whole play takes place in an upscale hotel room at 20-year intervals. We meet two of Reese’s former wives - Jessica and Ruella - his sleazy partner Julian, and Harold, a security guard at the hotel. Poopay is a high-class prostitute, hired by Reese in his dotage to do him an unconventional favor, one that both she and we don’t expect.

I would be spoiling the fun for you if I told you much more, so I’ll focus on the characters.

Stephanie Demyun-Smith as Ruella, Reese’s second wife, exudes sophistication and a world-weary cynicism, providing a sharp contrast to Poopay, who despite her occupation, is somewhat naive. Jessica’s character, played by Tara Cha, is not as fully developed, but gets more interesting as the story proceeds.

Reese, rendered by Jonathan Bartos, has to accomplish the most transformations in terms of age and character. Ralph Frattura as Julian, other than shouting too loudly at times, is a credible bad guy. Some of the antics he has to endure are pulled off beautifully by Poopay and Ruella, but the crowning achievement of the resourceful women is the balcony scene. I’m glad for their sake that the show only runs three times a week.

Jim Mallman as Harold gets better as he goes along. He’s a one-dimensional character who can be manipulated by others. He provides some humor without intending to.

Director Dustin J. Martin paced the show well. The suspense was maintained as the scene changes occurred. Poopay’s costume was outstanding (Aleta Bernard) and the lighting (Scott Fudall) added to the mystery.

All in all, very entertaining. I have always enjoyed Ayckbourn’s challenging creations.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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Time travels quickly in WCT's comedy thriller

By MARILYN JOZWIK - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
June 18, 2013

The Waukesha Civic Theatre's "Communicating Doors" is a bit of a bipolar play.

Tense and dramatic in the first act, the play turns into a farcical romp in Act II, before settling down again to a serious conclusion.

The play is a time-travel thriller set in a London hotel room in 2014. A wealthy old man, Reece (Jonathon Bartos), is dying, and he has his unscrupulous business partner, Julian (Ralph Frattura), send up a call girl to sign a confession he's written detailing all the terrible deeds he's been party to in his life. The call girl, Poopay (Kelly Simon), thinks she is there on a usual assignment and, when she balks at this unusual request, finds her life is in danger. She escapes to a closet, which turns out to be a time machine, and when she steps out she is in1994 and meets up with Reece's second wife, Ruella (Stephanie Demyun Smith). Once the two realize what has happened, Poopay delivers news of Ruella's fate in the future, and the two begin to plot how they can change the horrible events that await them. But first, Ruella must go back 20 years to warn Reece's first wife, Jessica (Tara Cha), of what lies ahead for her.

The time-travel theme is always fun and has made for lots of books, plays and movies. When Ruella travels to the past, she gives Jessica her husband's confession in the hope she will take steps to avoid her tragedy (remindful of a similar incident in "Back to the Future.")

The play was written in 1993 by Alan Ayckbourn, who loved movies. You'll notice homages to "Psycho" in a bathroom scene and Julian's fixation on his mother.

The first half of the show is nearly devoid of comedy. Simon's call girl, dressed as a dominatrix, is wound as tightly as a watch. When she realizes this is not a typical night's work, she works up into a tizzy. When the sickly Reece collapses and the ruthless Julian blames her, she ratchets up her emotions to hysteria, especially when she realizes the dire straits she is in. Simon has hysteria down pat. Frattura, who appeared as another unsavory character in "An Inspector Calls," is again called on to be the heavy, and he does it well.

In the second half it is almost as if the show's author realized it might not work as a mystery thriller and decided to throw in the comic elements, which is a good thing because another act so intense may have sent a few audience members into cardiac arrest.

Smith's Ruella flexes her comedic muscles in Act II, especially when she and Poopay must find a way to hide a dead body. Smith, Simon and Jim Mallmann as the hotel security guard, Harold, get the comedy rolling as they race against time, trying to change the course of their histories. The timing is good and the sight gags are hilarious, especially during the balcony rescue scene after one of the women accidentally tumbles over a railing on the sixth story. That was the highlight of the show, although it may have gone on a bit too long, and it was hard to hear some of the offstage voices on opening night.

Bartos does a fine job as he goes back and forth in time, aging nicely from young to old. Cha, as Reece's first wife, is also effective and works especially well when the play lightens up. She could, however, have engaged the audience better, particularly in the first half.

The set is clean, substantial and modern, with a cutaway to the bathroom and double doors to the balcony. The time-travel closet, or "cupboard," as the Brits called it, revolves with flashing lights and sound effects as it moves between times, which is effective. It appeared to work flawlessly, although it became a bit tiresome in Act I.

There is also some nifty staging, such as the body that ends up under a couch with a "Deliverance"-like arm thrusting through the cushions at one point. Simon and Smith also lift a couch a couple times and drag a body offstage, no small feats.

Director Dustin Martin and his ensemble cast tackle a logistically challenging play with success. At 2½ hours, the show is one of WCT's longer, yet time travels quickly with the fast pace and well-played comedy.

Volunteer of the Production - Pam Seccombe

Pam pours everything into being there for the cast. She radiates energy and enthusiasm for the theatre whenever she is around. As a member of the run crew, she did whatever was necessary to make the show a success including turning the door during the time travel sequences. One cast-mate said "I honestly don’t know that I’ve met ANYONE who embodies the spirit of this award more than Pam." Another said "She is a gem!!"