What if? Or just supposing.........Hitler had invaded, Henry VIII had fathered a son......Harold had beaten William at Hastings?
The alternative view of history distilled from the national to the personal is the core theme of Communicating Doors, (Theatre Royal, Brighton until Saturday.)
Because it was written by Alan Ayckbourn, the play is full of mesmerising mysteries, sharp one-liners and robust sex – all underpinned by a slow, slow drip of acid.
No-one skewers the middle classes like Ayckbourn and although this play was written in 1993 it’s as fresh as a Wimbledon strawberry – with just a touch of cream.
Starring Liza Goddard as, well Liza Goddard (and stunningly brilliant she is too, hardly looking a day older than she was in TVs Take Three Girls) the play focuses on ways we behave can change the future – and the past.
It opens when dominatrix Poopay, a sensational performance by multi-talented Laura Doddington resplendent in leather corset and studded collar, knocks at the door of a top-end London hotel suite.
Inside is Julian, sinister accomplice of her client Reece (Ben Porter.)
Reece, near to death, asks her to sign his confession to involvement in the murder of two former wives.
Escaping the sadistic Julian (played with Kray-like vacuous menace by Ben Jones,) Poopay flings herself into a cupboard which transports her 20 years back to the same suite, now occupied by Reece’s former (shortly to be late) wife, Ruella (Liza.)
Without dwelling on the ins and outs of the cupboard, we discover Ruella can transport herself back another 20 years to the suite occupied by first wife, Jessica, (aristocratic vowels nicely articulated by Daisy Atkins.)
Of course the three women change the course of their own personal histories, and those of the men they come into contact with, including hotel security manager Harold (nice work from Jamie Kenna.)
Of course, the script is terrific (‘People now only go in for virtual sex, mouse in one hand and joystick in the other.’) Future London (2033) is torn with riots, (‘We’re signing with Lewisham but Croydon is still holding out’) and Poopay snorts with derision at having to clean her make-up off with, can you believe, M&S’s impregnated facial wipes.
Ayckbourn said: ‘Communicating Doors contains my other strongly held belief that your own good fortune often resides in the people you meet on the way. It’s good luck to have met them; it’s good sense knowing the ones to listen to.’
Another must-see for Brighton – and stay alert in the second act. There are more twists and turns than Alton Towers’ Nemesis.