What would you do if you could turn back time? Would you do things differently? Experience history for yourself? Or would you do nothing at all, and leave your past behind as they are?
The Time Machine is the first in a series of three plays presented by Toy Factory Productions as part of The Wright Stuff Festival 2021. The Time Machine follows the life of a quantum physicist and her sacrifices – her life regrets, the unsaid, and the unfinished. Her impossible quest to build a time machine has had grave consequences on her relationship, friendships, and she eventually loses the one thing she was most passionate about – her career. The Time Machine chronicles her descent to rock-bottom and details her coming to terms with all of this.
As I stepped into the theatre, the first thing I noticed was how close the audience was to the stage. The intimacy of the black box theatre truly turned this experience into an immersive one – every anguished scream felt more cathartic, more authentic – almost as if they could have been my own at some point in my life.
What’s even more impressive was how the case transformed a minimalistic set into an entire world of its own. Despite the seemingly small cast of five, each actor multiplied themselves, morphing into various different roles seamlessly with phenomenal acting talent. There was no need for fancy props as every scene change was conveyed convincingly each and every time – the lighting created different moods and items, pushing the boundaries of what I had seen before in set design.
One of the things that stood out to me was the heroine’s refusal to acknowledge the “mundane”. Jen, a brilliant scientist at a top-tier government agency often mocks her own friends for their paths in life, mouthing off “At least I’m not a Tennis Coach” and to her own father “I’m glad I’m not a Taxi Driver”. Indeed, while it is important to acknowledge the importance of the dreamers, the unrealistic and the extraordinary, it is equally essential to recognise the contribution of the practical, the down-to-earth, and the ordinary in society. While most of us might look at the “ordinary” and think “Why Bother?”, this play paints them in a gentle, admiring light, responding with a resounding “Why Not?”
The play invites us audience to question that age-old adage of “Never giving up on your dreams” – the way that Jen relentlessly pursues her dreams are undoubtedly unhealthy. I say that one should follow your heart… but take your brain with you. After all, what is a dream achieved if you have nothing left in you to enjoy it? I suppose everyone has their priorities, and Jen has decided that making a mark on humanity is more important than everything she has. Perhaps not a life for me, but it is indeed an honorable raison d’être to be part of something greater than ourselves.
Ultimately, the play did reaffirm my beliefs that 1. We should not be afraid to chase our dreams and 2. Despite how we may have regrets about the past and wished things were different, what we go through makes us who we are today. A timely reminder for everyone, if you will. (Pun intended.)