?Time and the Conways? complex portrayal of time-warped family

By By Devin Richey , Staff Writer

By Devin Richey , Staff Writer

Earlier this month, the stage of the U’s Babcock Theatre was transformed into an early 20th century living room inhabited by a family celebrating the recent end of World War I. The family was made up of actors, of course, students in the Actor Training Program8212;a theatre department major designed to prepare students for a career in live performance. The room was the set of the company’s first play since the controversial “The Bakkhai” in September. “Time and the Conways,” written by British novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley, tells the story of a seemingly contented family with high aspirations for the future. The plot takes a lurid turn, however, when time jumps ahead 19 years to show the debauched reality of their future selves.

The concept of time in “Time and the Conways” was borrowed from a theory by J.W. Dunne stating that time is not linear as people assume, but a cluster of past, present, and future that all happen at once. According to Dunne’s An Experiment With Time, people have the untapped potential to travel to any point in their own lives and back again with any knowledge gained along the way. This provides an emotional challenge for one of the Conways when, returning from her vision of the family’s unhappy future, she begins to see the vices which prove to be the seeds of their downfall.

The cast handled the complex play expertly, even with one of the actors having been affected by a severe foot injury. The story is especially relevant to university students in the prime of their lives. It delivers the harsh message that our seemingly insignificant vices might, if unchecked, escalate into the definition of who we are as people.

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