The end is nigh. In fact, R.E.M. has been singing about it since the late 80’s, and if you take a good look around, we may certainly be approaching the final curtain. The human race just isn’t very good at taking care of mama earth. But here’s the interesting question: how is the world going to end? There are just so many good options. Alternate Endings is here to help you pick your favourite doomsday scenario.
Ten cautionary tales delve into the dark side of humanity
So which one tickles your fancy: religious zealots, climate change, biblical rapture, a deadly virus, a meteorite, derailed superheroes, sentient artificial intelligence or an erupting volcano? Or perhaps you agree that the world is just a simulation? The overriding theme in Alternate Endings is human belief systems and their role in the destruction of civilization. Whether you believe in God, science or superheroes, each one – never mind their good intentions – is just as likely to wipe out humanity. Many of Marvel’s greatest creations actually manage to combine all three for the ultimate effect.
Alternate Endings introduces a few funny characters and some clever scriptwriting, like the President of the United States occupying the Oval office after the Christian Industrial Revolution, when technology and culture serves the will of God and nuking out non-Christian countries is the top priority. In light of the recent political climate in US, this might just be the winning ticket for total destruction. In another topical sketch, a redneck rather burns during rapture than follows a black Jesus to heaven. All ten cautionary tales delve into the dark side of humanity as the characters try their very best at messing up the planet.
SkyPilot Theatre Company is a Los Angeles based non-profit ensemble of actors, directors and designers producing provocative and compelling plays with socially relevant topics. The American writer and cast bring a strong American viewpoint to the doomsday scenarios. They do a good job at portraying the characters and motives behind their actions, but it would have been great to get some more variety. The US is not the only culprit for annihilation. The script would have benefitted from a more original approach, at times it felt like we’ve seen all this before. The online production uses the all-too-familiar method of Zoom recording, where the cast uses quite cleverly background images to set the different scenarios.
Jonathan Price wrote Alternate Endings in 2015, years before Covid made its appearance on world stage. Who’s laughing now at a virus that could bring the world on its knees? Alternate Endings is free to watch online, so if you feel like spending just over an hour glooming – with an occasional giggle – over the different ways the human race is going to screw the planet, this is a good choice. And regarding the end of the world, I’ll put my money on the scientists: to save or to destroy, that’s for you to decide.