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The Door, Park Theatre – Review

Cherise Cross
Directed by Amy Draper

Pros: During this psychological thriller, one is never bored or frustrated at not having all the information to hand.

Cons: If you like everything spelt out for you, you might find the mystery more irksome than intriguing.

Our Verdict: An intelligent and thought-provoking production that takes a potentially cerebral subject matter and gives it a soul.

Courtesy of 8fold theatre company

The Door is the type of the play for which going into detail would ruin the enjoyment for future audiences. Having said that, I will endeavour to explain the essence of what I saw in broad strokes.

The first thing the audience notices is the soundscape that permeates the room at regular intervals. This perpetuates a sense of unease, along with periodic knocking on ‘the door’ and a disembodied voice speaking about quantum mechanics – not unlike some discussions in Nick Payne’s Constellations. Things are never quite as random as they first appear.

We are quickly introduced to John (Philip Nightingale), who suffers from chronic insomnia. He visits what we assume to be a clinic of some sort, where people with sleep disorders attend group therapy sessions. However the non-naturalistic décor of the walls – the presence of hexagonal patterns in every corner of the room including the furniture – leaves one wondering if all is as it seems… Within the therapy group are Tim (James Naylor), Karen (Stephanie Lodge) and Lisa (Adèle Keating), the counselor who leads the sessions.

John is reticent to share, but Lisa and the rest of the group try to coax him into disclosing his thoughts by revealing details about themselves. When open conversation proves fruitless, Lisa resorts to hypnosis, a catalyst for a number of events.

It has to be said that The Door is certainly Kafkaesque in conceit, though the movies Momento, Stir of Echoes and Shutter Island also spring to mind. Some plays are abstract to the point where the audience doesn’t care about the characters. Luckily, all the cast in The Door are interesting to watch, and all serve different functions in the tale. They feel like real human beings, with their own fears and agendas.

Nightingale grounds the reality of the play, exhibiting weariness, yet having sufficient energy to voice his frustration at being asked a myriad of questions. Keating exudes warmth and empathy, though she has her prickly moments where professionalism takes a side step and her emotions get the better of her. Naylor’s Tim is very sociable, yet holds deep fears stemming from parental rejection. Lodge’s Karen, meanwhile, is the long-term alpha patient – self-assured to the point one could imagine she is also a counselor. Finally Robert Bradley, who appears at the beginning and later as a bartender, lends an air of intrigue to the proceedings, even when he isn’t speaking. His character clearly knows something of the bigger picture.

The next reference has no indirect or actual bearing on The Door, but if you’ve ever watched the movie Angel Heart (when the protagonist, with a heavy heart, realises who he really is and what lies in store for him), then that will give you a sense of the mood of the play’s denouement. By this stage, the ending is not explicitly spelt out, but there are enough clues given throughout the performance for the audience to make a stab at what’s transpired. I’m sure, however, it is the author’s intention for the audience to offer multiple alternative interpretations to what they witnessed and to continue asking questions.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below! 

The Door runs at Park Theatre until 1st December 2013.
Box Office: 020 7870 6876 or book online at http://parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-door

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One comment

  1. My friend and I went to see The Door on Saturday; both of us left unfulfilled. I would say that we are both reasonably intelligent with well read minds however neither of us understood what “The Door” was, we both actually thought that the play stopped when it was only starting to gain momentum – to the point that we were both wary to applaud as we felt that it couldn’t possibly be finished.

    In saying all of the above, it was very well acted and the set design and overall production were excellent. It was my second visit to Park Theatre and I will continue to visit as the previous production was equally well executed. I definitely favoured the first play I saw, The Fog, as I felt it was far better written.

    An explanation of the full story of The Door would be much appreciated.

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