Foiling Murder Takes Time

Published: 04-Oct-2016 by All Theatre

A good-hearted dominatrix gets more than she bargained for when her wealthy client confesses to murder. On his deathbed, the elderly Reece has decided to confess his part in the murders of his two wives to the unsuspecting dominatrix, Poopay. At first Poopay resists involvement, but when her own life is threatened, she retreats into the posh hotel room’s cupboard. In a twist that recalls the 1998 film Sliding Doors, Poopay finds herself transported back 20 years to the same hotel room, in time to save Reece’s second wife, Ruella.
Pymble Players’ director Diane Howden said she relished the creative challenges posed by Communicating Doors, a 1994 comedy thriller by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn.
“It takes place in one hotel room, spanning 40 years (between 2036 and 1996).” Howden explained. So how do you illustrate time travel in a play?
“I had to do it by lighting effects,” Howden said. “In 2036 the lighting is stark - representing a dystopian future. In 2016 the lights on the stage change. There’s a warmer wash generally.”
Soundscapes are also used to delineate the different time zones - depending on the era, the hotel doorbell sounds different.
Howden found casting actors who would convincingly age 40 years throughout the course of the play another challenge. 
“Casting Reece was the hardest job.” Howden said. At the beginning, Reece is in his 70s, but when he’s on his first honeymoon, he is 30. 
​“Reece is played by Dan Ferris. He’s a very tall chap in real life. To play Reece (in his 70s) he has to walk with a stoop and a shuffle. He has a gait to show he’s ill.” Howden said. Howden said Ayckbourn’s script was peppered with one-liners that still made her laugh on rereading.“There’s innuendo throughout, but nothing sexual happens. The dominatrix is actually really innocent, and has been caught up in a situation.”
​Will Poopay prevent the two murders, and what will happen to her once she’s been discovered?
Howden said audiences would be left pondering the question of whether we actually have a say in our own destiny. 
​“Audiences can expect a fast-paced play, with never a dull moment...It should be frightening at times, but also very, very funny.”
Howden, a qualified accountant, lives at Wahroonga. This is her second time directing with the Pymble Players since she began working with them in 2010. When not directing or treading the boards herself, Howden runs her own copy-writing, editing and proof-reading business.

Communicating Doors plays 5-29 October 2016

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