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'Communicating Doors': Mystery, Murder and Heart

(Left to right) Josie de Guzman as Ruella and Julie Sharbutt as Phoebe in the Alley Theatre’s production of Communicating Doors. Photo by John Everett. Photo courtesy of Alley Theatre, used with permission
(Left to right) Josie de Guzman as Ruella and Julie Sharbutt as Phoebe in the Alley Theatre’s production of Communicating Doors. Photo by John Everett. Photo courtesy of Alley Theatre, used with permission
(Left to right) Josie de Guzman as Ruella and Julie Sharbutt as Phoebe in the Alley Theatre’s production of Communicating Doors. Photo by John Everett. Photo courtesy of Alley Theatre, used with permission

Flipping through the playbill prior to the show starting, in an article about play write Alan Ayckbourn, he describes his play as "'Back to the Future" meets "Psycho"'. With such a dynamic and intriguing comparison, audiences can be prepared to see something unique when they see the newest Alley production "Communicating Doors".

The story is an interesting blend of comedy and suspense. The play opens in a hotel suite where we meet the plays three main players Phoebe aka Poopay, as she is first introduced, (Julie Sharbutt), JS Goodwin (James Black) and Reese Wells (Jeffrey Bean). What appears to be a sexual exchange suddenly turns into an elderly, dying man wanting to have his confession witnessed so that he can relieve himself of his guilt and ease his conscious before his final days. His only request is that Phoebe deliver the signed confession to his lawyers, when she becomes reluctant to take it, the action and chaos truly begins.

The "Back to the Future" element is introduced when Goodwin gets wind of the plans Mr. Wells has with a confession and decides to do what he does best and continue to silence the women of Wells' life. The transitions of time through a closet are performed flawlessly and impressively. The changing of the window image and pictures on the wall are perfect focal points to indicate the transitions.

This play with the use of time travel covers almost 60 years’ time. Sharbutt as Poopay has perfect comic timing and is a force on stage. Her main stage partner, the second wife of Mr. Wells, Ruella (Josie De Guzman), is a perfect contrast to her both theatrically and performance wise. Poopay’s character is timid, unsure and excitable, while Ruella is adventurous, confident and wise. Sharbutt and Guzman have a sharp dynamic on stage that draws the audience in to every twist and turn of the plot.

Through it all, the audience is taken on a wild ride of murder, mystery, time travel, humor, sexual innuendos, and a mountain of other curious story elements. Ultimately, this play will not only have audiences jumping to their feet in applaud but also will touch your heart. Under all the time travel, murder, comedy and suspense, this play highlights the importance of family and having the right people around you. This will be a play that will surprise audiences at each turn and delight them both with the top notch performances, amazing set design and overall quality of the production.

"Communicating Doors" runs now through April 27th on the Hubbard stage. Don’t miss your chance to see this unusual, touching play before the final curtain closes. For ticket information, visit alleytheatre.org, at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713-220-5700.