By Chris Lane
By Olivia Flores Alvarez
By Angelica Leicht
By Jef Rouner
By Jef With One F
By Jef With One F
By Marco Torres
Alan Ayckbourn fans ought to be pleased this month. In addition to the Alley's clever productions of House and Garden, Houstonians also can enjoy a lively rendition of Ayckbourn's funny and suspenseful Communicating Doors at Stages Repertory Theatre. Murder, time travel and a bewitching dominatrix come together in this likable show about a young woman who saves the day and manages to change her destiny in the process.
Dressed in skintight black leather and carrying a bag of wild tricks, the charmingly naughty prostitute Poopay (Luci Christian) stumbles into a London hotel room where she is to service a dying man before he kicks the bucket. The year is 2014 and all is not well for wealthy old Reece (Daniel Magill). He has summoned the young woman so that she might deliver a signed confession to the appropriate authorities. It turns out that in his early years Reece behaved very badly, killing two wives for money. Now that he's dying, he's ready to confess. Trouble is, his evil business partner, Julian (David Born), won't allow any tale-telling. While Reece feels responsible, it was actually Julian who did the dirty deeds. And once Julian discovers Reece's plan, Poopay is bound, so to speak, to become his next victim.
In desperation, Poopay runs out of the hotel room through the communicating door and ends up in 1994. There she meets up with Ruella (Deborah Hope), Reece's second wife, hours before she is supposed to die. The two women join forces in an effort to save themselves and Reece's ditsy first wife, Jessica (Keely Rusk), who was killed back in 1974.
Through May 19 at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123. $32-$42.
As unlikely as the plot sounds, Communicating Doors is charmingly persuasive, especially in the hands of the lovely Christian; her Poopay must be the sweetest, most disarmingly honest prostitute in all of London. Hope is also funny as the resourceful Ruella, helping Poopay discover her own good heart.
Director Bruce Lumpkin fills the stage with energy and old-fashioned slapstick that includes a hysterical brush with death on a balcony, and the rest of the cast provides sound support for the two heroines. But this is without a doubt Christian and Hope's show. These two women have a rare and entertaining stage chemistry.