Communicating Doors | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Communicating Doors


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Communicating Doors, Attic Playhouse. Last performed here in 1994 at the Merle Reskin Theatre, this diverting domestic comedy by Alan Ayckbourn depicts a murder mystery played out over four decades: it pivots on a door in a hotel suite that can transport people back in time but never farther forward than their own era. Three resilient, determined women from 1974, 1994, and 2014--two wives and a good-hearted dominatrix--better their lives by helping one another.

Clever as the concept is, the play seemed curiously mechanical and arch in its overlong Chicago premiere. But Attic Playhouse director David Belew never flaunts the wizardry of the time-traveling "communicating door" (here accompanied by Philip Glass's eerie music) in this brisk, intimate staging, which allows the women's sisterly solidarity to shine through. (Just one question: why doesn't a single piece of furniture change over 40 years?)

The accents waver, but the performers hit the mark, especially the women. Julie M. Partyka is particularly endearing as plucky Poopay (phonetic French for "doll"), whose discovery of a murder confession in 2014 inspires her to try to prevent the killing. Naomi Landman exudes veddy English common sense as the villain's second endangered wife, and Jennifer A. Faletto conveys well the lifesaving practicality that rescues the first wife from her dire fate. Whatever emerges as intriguing rather than merely confusing is a triumph shared equally by Ayckbourn and the Attic.

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