Review by Taylor Kendal
How will the world as we know it end? Will it be the proverbial ice or fire? Will it be the rapture as told by the bible? Humanity being overthrown by artificial intelligence? Will God actually save humanity? Will it be the superheroes? These days, it’s not quite as much a hypothetical scenario as it once was, given the way the world has become of late, but why choose when Alternate Endings is here to offer a little guidance on the subject.
From the mind of the late Jonathan Price comes an American cautionary tale, comprised of ten vignettes that discuss various possibilities that see the end of the world, the start of the apocalypse, and the end of all we know. Brought to life by SkyPilot Theatre Company, a Los Angeles based non-profit ensemble of actors, directors and creatives striving to create theatre interwoven with socially relevant topics, and with Alternate Endings it really hits the nail in the head with that one. With half a dozen directors, a huge ensemble cast and a wonderfully created script, audiences are introduced to a variety of scenarios, both seemingly ridiculously implausible, but at the same time scarily accurate, and a cast of characters that are not as impossible as one may think.
While each story has an underlying theme of the end times, they are all individual in their own right and don’t necessarily follow a flowing script as such, but rather short skits dealing with issues that are not only relevant today, but could very well cause the end times; climate change deniers, scientists trying to cover up malpractice and mistakes, artificial intelligence becoming sentient and taking over and how bigotry could truly stop your ascent into the afterlife. The only exception is the running skit throughout the performance of the Presidential Address; a televised broadcast in the not so distant future, where a fundamentalist president is quite literally bombing ‘heathen non-christian countries’ after the Christian Industrial Revolution. The thought itself of overzealous religious fanatics being left with that much power is terrifying in itself – but is quite eerily familiar given some of the events of the past few years.
The script, written by the late Jonathan Price, was written back in 2015, long before the covid pandemic, before a certain someone somehow made his way into the White House, before so much of the catastrophic realities of our times; and yet, the themes are as prevalent and relevant than ever. It is clever, fill of dry, deadpan wit and humour and plays wonderfully on various tropes relevant with the subject matter of the end of the world. While some might seem a little strange, such as the world’s obsession with superheroes quite literally manifesting itself into reality, there are a few themes that some might find hit quite close to home.
Alternate Endings is comprised of an incredibly talented cast, many of whom both directed skits as well as starred. A collaboration of this type in this day and age done digitally is a hard feat, and has been pulled off incredibly well by the company, and they deserve incredible applause for doing so.
While the majority of the time spent watching this is quite frankly wondering which scenario is more plausible and terrifying when the human race inevitably screws the planet over, it is not without a little light. In particular, the idea that a life well lived with the right people in the right way is worthwhile no matter how short our time is, and how the smallest of niceties can put a smile on someone’s face and change someone’s perspective.
Alternate Endings is a unique and intriguing look into some very scary possibilities, and can perhaps leave audience members wondering about their own course of action when and if the time comes. If not, it’s an hour of entertainment in a climate that frankly needs it right now.