Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

These notes about Communicating Doors were written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1997 in response to an enquiry about directing the play.

Notes on Directing Communicating Doors

Let the laughs take care of themselves. But be aware - or beware, they will never come by the actors signalling or forcing them.

The play, especially in its dying moments, should be quite poignant. Quite a few of our audience shed a surreptitious tear for Ruella. But they won’t do that if they don’t care. And they won’t care if they don’t believe or are really moved by the change in Poopay’s circumstances.

Communicating Doors is also that tricky thing, a comedy thriller. It should also be very frightening. We have to believe that our heroines are in real danger. Julian is the key to this, of course. But so is their own fear. Always remind your cast (in this department) that the audience don’t know what’s going to happen next even if the actors do. Watch a horror movie twice and it’s never as frightening because we know that in this particular sequence the heroine doesn’t get grabbed… But that doesn’t stop her telling us that she thinks she might.

It’s all about truth really. Even the best actors sometimes stand there wondering what’s gone wrong. The answer invariably is that the audience no longer believe.

Short answer on how to direct
Communicating Doors: concentrate on the thriller element and work hard to develop a real and growing friendship between Ruella and Poopay. They are two very different, flawed women who are thrown together through circumstances and gradually discover a growing affection and admiration for each other. Yes, of course it is easy to see what Poopay gets from Ruella. Self respect, a sense of responsibility for others, etc. But Ruella also begins to learn a little tolerance and maybe even a sense of humour about things.

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