“Another Door Opens,” an original play by Jeff Dunne, directed by Rick Bergmann and produced by Maureen Rogers, debuted at Laurel Mill Playhouse in historic Laurel, Maryland.
“Another Door Opens” is a science fiction satire. It takes place thousands of years in the future. Radiation levels are so high they have forced all forms of life, both human and artificial intelligence, to live in an underground shelter. Humans have been in suspended animation as A.L.I.C.E (voiced by Jane Steffen), the main computer, has been trying to revive them. She has not been very successful as only four have survived starting with #4384, the main character of the plot, Paul (Ken Krintz). Alice is trying to restart life with the help of two androids, Whitney (Raven T. Hall), a white rabbit, and Ralph (Rasheed Williams), a bus driver. (Yes, this is a reference to “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Honeymooners.”) Alice feels especially guilty about the apocalypse as her A.I. son, A.D.A.L.P.H (pronounced, you guessed it, Adolph) caused this holocaust due to his hatred of all living things.
Paul is apprised of his fate as he regains consciousness and interfaces with the autocratic computer that is beginning to show signs of electronic failure. A.L.I.C.E, for instance, totally misjudges Paul’s mental abilities. Paul finds his fellow survivors a motley crew. They include Abbey (Beth Bell), a former accountant, and now a little bit of the ditzy blond, even though she is brunette. The other female brought back to life in the shelter is Ruby (Brittany Ransbottom), a tough cookie with a criminal past, including computer hacking. Finally, there is Kenneth (Kevin A. Wilson) who has multiple personalities, one-part Xena, Princess Warrior, one-part Blort, an extra-terrestrial, one-part Sherlock Holmes, and finally, a h***y gender indeterminate called Stacey. The four’s primary purpose, according to A.L.I.C.E. is to repopulate the earth.
Kenneth’s insanity, Ruby’s sarcasm, and Abbey’s lack of insight all lead to a great deal of humor. Also giving a good laugh are A.L.I.C. E’s literary attempts which are really rip-offs of previous literary works, including Ray Bradbury’s, the Brothers Grimm’s and even Dr. Seuss’.
As the group realizes they need to get outside to see if there is other life and the present condition of the earth, they try to outwit A.L.I.C.E. Of course, mayhem ensues.
If you are a fan of sci-fi, Another Door Opens, will certainly tickle your funny bone. If you are like me and just like good satire, you will want to swing down to Laurel Mill Playhouse and see this interesting new play.
Ransbottom is a standout as Ruby. The role itself is witty and energetic and Ransbottom makes this character who is part goth, part biker chick, and part Lisbeth Salandar (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) believable in this not quite, believable world. Ruby’s refusal to cooperate with A.L.I.C.E. when asked to identify basic hygiene implements is one of the best moments in the show.
Krintz’s Paul appears appropriately mildly dazed as he tries to comprehend his new reality. His mind games with A.L.I.C.E. in the final scene are the keyhole to the themes of the play which are quality of life is more important to humans than just being alive, and wisdom Is more important than intellect.
Bell’s Abbey is more like a child who is beginning to relearn how to cope. Abbey starts out very simple minded, but by the end, she, too, has developed insight. Bell shows us these changes subtly, and allows us to see her character develop.
Wilson’s Kenneth is just maniacal enough to help add to the humor and just sane enough to keep him likeable to the audience.
Steffen as the disembodied voice of A.L.I.C.E. reminds me SIRI but also of HAL in “2001.” A.L.I.C.E. is funny often without realizing it, for example, when she retells the plot of her twisted version of Snow White “Slush Gray”. With the only visual of the computer’s machinations being a small screen located on top of a
Hall as Whitney and Rasheed Williams as Ralph also help provide the laughs. Hall carries of her anthropomorphized white rabbit with aplomb and Rasheed’s Ralph also gets his share of guffaws with a special nod to his unusual physical disability in Act II.
Bergman keeps the pace going most of the time. Doing a new play is always a challenge. Bergman shows talent in the role of director. The use of the computer voice to make the opening announcements was clever as was the device used to wheel Ralph around after his dreadful “accident.”
Bergman also is credited with the set, lights and sound.
If you are a fan of sci-fi, “Another Door Opens,” will certainly tickle your funny bone. If you are like me and just like good satire, you will want to swing down to Laurel Mill Playhouse and see this interesting new play.
Running Time: Two hours and 5 minutes with an Intermission.
Advisory: There is some adult humor in the play that may be offensive to children under 12.