Communicating Doors (2000)This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn for a programme for an unknown production.
When we first produced this play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough back in 1998, we played a game called 'spot the film reference'. There are the obvious ones, of course: a passing reference to the famous shower scene in Psycho, a touch of Vertigo and even a small tribute to Back to the Future, though that last movie is, of course, one long tribute in its turn to a whole host of time travelling tales from dozens of long forgotten science fiction magazines.
I think, in my youth, I must have read most of those stories. I devoured science fiction whenever I could lay my hands on it. It captivated me, all these tales of what we might become and what we could have been if only. Most of the stories, certainly the Time Travelling ones, served as thinly disguised cautionary tales for today. If we don't stop so and so now, then behold what almost certainly will happen tomorrow. Others concerned the possibility of going back - of putting things right, things left undone. Not just world events, stopping the rise of Hitler, but more personal ones like taking back an impetuous act that caused your small brother such unhappiness, perhaps.
Personally, I don't really believe that we will ever be able to travel back. Or, if the day comes that we miraculously can, that we will be able alter our past. We'll simply stand by powerless watching our same foolish mistakes unfolding again and again before our horrified older eyes. Which is possibly, if it has been invented in some distant future, why we never meet a single Time Traveller from our own future. With such a depressing sense of powerlessness, who would bother to travel?
As Communicating Doors puts it, though, it is quite possible to alter our future, any time we want, if not in the way Poopay achieves it, at least through the actions we choose to take here and now. The future, as the old cliché has it, is in our own hands. Which just goes to prove, really, that there's nothing new. Not even in science fiction.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.