It’s the year 2024, and Phoebe walks through the wrong hotel door and into a world of danger. She meets another woman, Ruella, and together they try to stop someone from being killed, as they flip back and forth through time. Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd, who describes the comedy Communicating Doors as “Back to the Future meets Hitchcock,” says the science fiction format allows playwright Alan Ayckbourn a wonderful way in which to write allegorical stories. “On one level it’s an ‘old dark house’ thriller where women in their nightclothes are failing to turn on the lights even though they know there is something in the dark that means them harm. On another level, it is Ruella and Phoebe’s developing friendship — the Head meets the Heart and they join forces against the dark. And it’s also a battle for the young girl’s soul. And then it’s a comedy, too — but the comedy grows out of the tension of the thriller element. The women are in real danger. So it’s a romance, a comedy, a sci-fi adventure story. It’s a play about “what if” — a time-travel tale concealed in a morality play.”
“The women in this play are the central figures — and the men create the problems, sometimes very frightening ones. The women are thrust into the heroine roles and they have to outthink and outsmart and outmaneuver the darker forces represented by the male characters. They are the true definition of heroes, I think, putting everything at risk,” says Boyd, who’s been wanting to do another Ayckbourn play for years, ever since House & Garden in 2002.
When originally written, in 1994, Communicating Doors covered the years 1974 to 2014. “When Ayckbourn revived the play recently, he changed the times in which the play takes place to 2034, 2014, and 1994 — with 2034 being “the present” — there is a dystopian element, with civil war in London, the landscape rearranged and virtual sex having arrived,” Boyd says. Julie Sharbutt (making her Alley debut) plays Phoebe, while Alley favorite Josie de Guzman plays Ruella. Resident company members Jeffrey Bean, James Black, Melissa Pritchett and Todd Waite round out the cast.
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through April 27. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $78.
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: April 4. Continues through April 27, 2014