Although most of the plays in the Golden Age Of Theatre series have a contemporary setting and dwell on issues such as Brexit and the pandemic, there have been a handful that have taken things back into the past. Equally there’s a strand which looks into the future via the lens of science fiction , although, of course, any sci-fi worth its salt is as much about today as it is about tomorrow. So, I picked out a pair of Ian Dixon Potter’s monologues which take a wry look at how things might turn out.
Call Back starts off lightly enough as a tale about time travel though there’s no actual human transference to a different historical era; indeed the “travel” involved is a mere four days. Danny is a young man working in a mobile phone repair shop and when a customer leaves one to be mended he discovers that it can be used to talk to people four days in the past. His first thought is to use this for personal gain by placing gambling bets based on subsequent knowledge but then he also realises it can be used for more altruistic purposes. Knowing that a friend is going to be involved in a serious accident he uses the facility to first warn him and then warn the accident causer. Neither works though and there follows an interestingly complex examination of how different timelines may be operating in the cosmos and just because an action can be altered in one timestream it can’t necessarily be changed in the original (if that is what it truly is). There is also a rather more sinister development when the local weather starts going haywire and the good people of Yeovil start to fall sick.
While all this is unlikely (or is it?) the plotline, as with most sci fi, is something you just have to go with to get some enjoyment out of it; and enjoyable the piece undoubtedly is. Thomas Everatt brings infectious energy to the role of Danny particularly in the opening minutes where is bursting to tell us about his experience. His everyman quality is endearing and the fact that the character tries to do some good with his newfound device rather than use it for nefarious purposes puts us firmly on his side. Well, at least until the end when he makes a rather more morally dubious choice – even if it is a neat twist.
Transhuman propels us into the near future when consciousness can be stored in the cloud along with our holiday photos and our music collection. The unnamed protagonist in this piece uses developed technology to do just that so that she can continue to “exist” past her death caused by a terminal illness. However, she finds herself missing the very things which mark someone out as a human entity – a physical embodiment with the ability to connect to others. In her desperation to avoid being forgotten she finds herself in a hell of her own making even if she doesn’t believe in that particular concept itself. A radical solution presents itself but at what cost to both herself, to at least one other person and to the human race more generally?
There’s a slow build to this piece which plays out in real time with no changes of location. This makes it quite an intense watch, particularly after the slightly less heavy atmosphere generated by much of the first piece. Thomasin Lockwood is essentially playing two characters (that will make sense when you watch) and has no room to hide as the camera is trained on her face throughout. She gives an exceptionally well controlled performance that has hints of the outcome from the start but allows enough room for the viewer to do some work too in solving the puzzle.
I felt that the last Golden Age Theatre piece I watched(Marlowe’s Ghost) was a bit of a tonal error and didn’t really belong to a series about contemporary life. Although in a sense though neither of these two do, they have a plausibility about them borne of references to devious politicians (and how timely is that this week?) and the divide between the haves and have nots. So, it’s good to note that these short but sharp pieces are back on track. Just one more pair of this series left to see – I’ll be back next week unless I get any mysterious phone calls from the future warning me off or I’m busy uploading my personality into the ether.