Play is a thriller with a time warp

Three performers in Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of “Communicating Doors” are (from left) Kate Rose Reynolds, John W. Wells III and Wendy Waddell. (photo by Ken Jacques)Â

Play is a thriller with a time warp

Get ready for an entertainingly confounding, comedic, stage thriller when Scripps Ranch Theatre (SRT) opens its new season with Alan Ayckbourn’s “Communicating Doors,” Sept. 7-Oct. 7.

Written by acclaimed playwright and director Ayckbourn, “Communicating Doors” tells the story of three women who all have business in the same hotel suite. One of the women has narrowly escaped being murdered, one is about to be murdered, and the other was murdered two decades before. That may seem a little confusing, time-wise, until you realize that the door in the corner, the “communicating door” that connects two hotel rooms, leads back to the same suite 20 years earlier.

“It’s a thriller with a time warp,” said Jacqueline Ritz, who is directing the play for SRT.

Ritz, who previously directed “Accomplice” at SRT, is excited to direct Ayckbourn’s time-shifting thriller in the local theater space.

“We’ll have characters two feet from the audience! You’ll feel like you’re in the suite with them. That close-in seating is good,” Ritz said. “The theatrical elements, including what we do with the door and what happens when the time changes will be very exciting for the audience.”

Director Jacquelyn Ritz works with cast members of “Communicating Doors.” (photo by Ken Jacques) 

With its time shifting elements, the play covers a 40-year period — the present day, 20 years in the future, and 20 years in the past. “Communicating Doors” was originally set in the year it was written, 1994, so characters were going back to 1974 and up to 2014. The Scripps Ranch Theatre version is set in 2005, so the past is 1985 and the future is 2025.

“For 2025, it was interesting to think about how people will dress, how they will move,” Ritz said. “Going back to 1985, we’re having a lot of fun with that design time and the big hair and the colors and things people carry around like big phones.”

The director believes the way that the play goes back and forth in time to illuminate the plot and present possible alternative realities for all of the characters involved presents questions ripe for contemplation.

“For me, it’s about the little moments that can change our future. If you make a choice in the past, it impacts your future,” Ritz said. “So what is the door? Is it a force? Does it give you a chance to go back? If it does, do you want to?”

The cast is led by Kate Rose Reynolds as “Poopay” and Wendy Waddell as “Ruella.” Also featured on the production are Charles Peters, Sibongile Ngako, Wendy Waddell, Paul Morgavo and John W. Wells III.

Ritz describes “Opening Doors” as a dynamic play that offers something for everyone.

“You walk in thinking it’s one play, but then it turns into something else,” she said.” It’s unpredictable, surprising and has a lot of heart. You’ll invest in these characters and you’ll experience it like you’re in the front row.”

Scripps Ranch Theatre is on the campus of Alliant International University, 9783 Avenue of Nations. “Communicating Doors” runs Sept. 7-Oct. 7. To reserve seats, call (858) 578-7728. For ticket price information, visit scrippsranchtheatre.org.

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