Alan Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors to open new season at Abbey Theatre

Communicating Doors at The Abbey Theatre in St Albans [Picture: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre]

Communicating Doors at The Abbey Theatre in St Albans [Picture: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre] - Credit: Archant

A hilarious time-travelling comedy will open the new season at The Abbey Theatre in St Albans next week.

Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn is the theatre’s first production of the new season.

It opens on Friday, September 15 and runs until Saturday, September 23.

Three women have urgent business in a London hotel suite.

One of them has narrowly escaped being murdered, one is about to be murdered, and the other was murdered two decades before. Sounds impossible?

Not in this hotel, where, instead of connecting to the next-door room, this communicating door leads to the same suite in another year.

In this way, scenes bounce between 1998, 2018 and 2038.

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In the year 2038, Reece, a dying businessman, hires a dominatrix, Poopay.

When she arrives at his hotel suite, she discovers that he does not require her rather special services, but wants her to witness a written confession that he murdered both his first and second wives, or rather, that he got his sinister associate Julian to do it for him.

When Reece collapses suddenly, and Poopay fears that she may be Julian’s next victim, she runs through a connecting door into the year 2018, which is inhabited by Reece’s doomed second wife Ruella.

When Ruella learns about the confession and uses the door herself, she lands up in 1998, where Reece and his first wife, Jessica, are on their honeymoon.

From this point, the women unite to change the course of history and avoid their grisly fate.

What ensues is frenetically funny and absurd in turn, as Ruella and Poopay dash backwards and forwards in time, while trying to avert Julian’s murderous intentions, as he tries to retrieve the confession and dispose of the witnesses.

In the end, apart from the irredeemable Julian, all their lives are changed for the better, even Reece, for whom good choices bring a happier outcome.

Director Roger Scales is in awe of “the sheer inventiveness” of Alan Ayckbourn’s imagination.

He said: “Apparently he got his inspiration for Communicating Doors, partly from watching the film Psycho, which is full of frightening surprises, and partly from the ingenuity of JB Priestley’s Time Plays, which examine the repercussions of things said and actions taken, and leave you thinking, what if...”

Performances take place on the Abbey Theatre main stage from Friday, September 15 to Saturday, September 16 at 8pm, on Sunday, September 17 at 2.30pm, and from Tuesday, September 19 to Saturday, September 23 at 8pm.

• To book tickets go to or call the box office on 01727 857861.