Time travel is a tricky business.
Even a Star Trek-addicted fan like this writer admits that jumps through the space-time continuum served as a too-often-used plot device for that enduring show and its sequels over the years--not to mention countless other TV shows and movies that have failed to deliver because of their ridiculous time-jump stories. Mark Wahlberg's Planet of the Apes anyone?
But boy, when done right, those time-shifting Trek episodes really were some of the best!
Popular British playwright Alan Ayckbourn attempts to up the ante by offering his own amusing and suspenseful take on time travel in a play now gracing the Knock 'Em Dead stage. And, courtesy of prolific Boise-area director/actor Kevin Kimsey, Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors has turned up as a refreshingly engaging outing that Treasure Valley audiences will no doubt want to seek out this month.
Set in an English hotel room during three time settings, the play revolves primarily around Poopay Dayseer (Becky Jaynes), a professional dominatrix who unwittingly finds herself as the confidante of a dying millionaire named Reese (Randall Webster), who, in 2014, confesses to employing his assistant Julian (Kimsey) to kill his two former wives years earlier.
When Julian discovers the confession, Poopay frantically darts into a small room behind a communicating door between hotel suites and emerges into an identical suite inhabited by Reese's second wife Ruella (Lynn McAlister). Poopay realizes she's traveled back in time 20 years to a point right before Ruella is killed and tries to convince Ruella of her impending doom.
Ruella discovers the unique communicating door herself and is transported back another 20 years to 1974 where she discovers newlyweds Reese and first wife Jessica (Nova Calverley) in the same hotel room. Ruella travels back to her own time, where she and Poopay ponder a plan to alter time in a way that will save all their necks.
It's an odd little plot that delivers the goods most of the time, thanks largely to the talented Jaynes and McAlister, who appear in most of the scenes. The pair manage to create a mother-daughter chemistry that serves to generate a believable sadness during their inevitable parting. Jaynes, too, enjoys plenty of well-earned laughs along the way--though to be fair, her inspired leather attire and long blonde wig at the play's start contribute to the merriment.
Most of the other characters in Communicating Doors, though, are written as fairly one-dimensional. They're not particularly bright and serve as comic foils--save perhaps for Reese, milked for depth and finding it by the always-reliable Webster, who also wins the play's Most Frequent (and Challenging) Makeup Changes award.
Kimsey is appropriately evil and sinister as the devious Julian, while Calverley channels her "inner dumb blonde" as towel-clad --and apparently ageless as time later tells--first wife Jessica.
Longtime Valley performer Jeff Thomson, a hoot in countless British farces over the years, turns up for some brief, but welcome chuckles as the hotel's bumbling security director Harold Palmer.
Thur., 7 p.m., show only; Fri.-Sat., 6:30 p.m. dinner show and 8 p.m. show only. Through June 24. $13.50-$16.50 Thur.; $35.50 dinner show Fri.-Sat. Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre, 333 S. 9th St. For tickets, visit www.kedproductions.org.