The Musical
 

 

H. G. Wells’s

 

THE TIME MACHINE

 

A NEW MUSICAL

 

1996 Book and lyrics by Alex Went , music by John Moore, edited for the stage by Peter Fanning.

Based on the story by H.G. Wells. This libretto may not be copied or hired out under any circumstances.

 

Act One: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6

Act Two: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6

Back to The Time Machine Home Page

The Time Machine Act One 4 June 1997

Scene 1: Prologue / At the Central Station

Darkness. A ticking sound, as of an old grandfather clock. The lights come up on a desk, behind which sits a figure, Gregory Watts, who carefully contrives a cage of small brass rods, about the size of a carriage clock, the working model for a Time Machine.

This continues for a little time. He pauses only to consult a notebook. A shadow emerges behind him. His wife, Louisa, dressed to go out, carrying his cape, hat... She starts to speak, but he holds up a hand. She come slowly to him and approaches her face to the small object.

Watts significantly places the final piece. He stands, takes her in his arms, retreats with her from the desk. He dons his jacket. She places the cape around him, hands him his hat. She keeps her eyes on him. He raises his eyes to the heavens.

Watts: Finished!

The sound of a steam whistle. Smoke, the stage instantly filled with the travelling populace of London of 1897. As they sing and fly, the desk and model are cleared. As the lights come up they illuminate a vast white clock face of the kind found at Victorian railway stations.

1/ Progress!

Ten to eight!

The hands on the clock say ten to -

Ten to eight!

This was surely the time we were meant to

Be here!

The time on the clock’s

The accurate time to refer to

The time on the clock

Is surely the time we prefer to

Go by!

We’ll never take another man’s word for it

We’ll never trust or take what we’ve heard for it

This is the best way to tell the time

This is the progress of all mankind!

Don’t be late!

You’ll never again miss appointments

Don’t be late!

Just check to avoid disappointments

Early!

The time on the clock’s
The time that the trains all run to

The time on the clock’s

The steps that that the dance is done to

Daily!

We’ll never take another man’s word for it

We’ll never trust or take what we’ve heard for it

This is the best way to tell the time

This is the progress of all mankind!

Watts: Louisa, dearest, are you sure?

Louisa: Of course! Steadman wouldn’t let us down: he told us the eight o’clock.

Watts: But which day -which day?

Louisa: Why, Gregory, today! (spelling it out to him) The-thirtieth of December-Eighteen-Ninety-Seven. Sometimes I wonder whether you have any conception of time at all. If you had, you would have known, and we could have avoided this rush...

Watts: Darling, I am abject.

Louisa: As always. Oh look! Gregory, dearest - isn’t that him? Steadman? He’s just as you described!

The hat, the scarf, the gloves, the little eye-glasses - a true Bohemian! Oh it simply must be! Is it?

Watts: Louisa, your eye, as ever, is as accurate and unerring as a station clock.

(shouts) Steadman! Steadman! Over here!

 

1/ (Reprise)

This is it!

The time all the trains arrive here

This is it!

The time when it’s all alive here

Progress!

The time on the clock’s

A sign of civilization

The time on the clock’s

The sign of a prosp’rous nation’s

Success!

We all await at the turn of the centuries

What has been promised - the greatest adventure is
Coming each minute the clock ticks by -

This is the progress of all mankind!

Stead: Watts! (to a porter) Here! Thank you - a shilling - keep the change.

Watts.... good to see you, (seeing Louisa) and, I think....

Watts: Mr Ernest Steadman, Mrs Louisa Watts, my wife; Louisa ...

Louisa: Delighted, I’m sure. Mr Steadman...

Stead: Please, Mrs Watts...

Watts catches sight of the stationmaster, excuses himself and rushes after him.

Stead: Watts?

Louisa: He has some business with the stationmaster. Gregory’s latest scheme - the authorities allow him the use of a shed in the sidings - home is just too small these days for his experiments...

Stead: [laughing] A sidings shed? What is he building - a train?

Louisa: No, no, nothing so .. it’s just that -

Stead: Ah, my dear Mrs Watts, the life of an author is so very trouble-free, in comparison...

No laboratories for me - I can work wherever and whenever I like: paper and ink are

my tools, and my materials are all around me. Human behaviour, human interaction -

natural realism, Mrs Watts - it’s the new style. A style for the century!

Louisa: Gregory!

Watts: Steadman, I’m so sorry. How good to see you! When did you set out?

Stead: Oh, at six, I suppose, yes six o’clock - it’s taken two hours precisely.Remarkable!

Watts: My belief is that such times will be exceeded before the century is out - perhaps even

sooner.

Stead: Yet part of me fears this progress, Watts; ours is a civilized society, linked throughout the nation by this miraculous effect of what is nothing more than the transferral of drops of water into steam. But those same effects may spur the engineers who wage our wars. Remember that - human society is only as advanced as its most brutal and bloody battle.

Louisa: Gregory?

Watts: Yes - um... Steadman, let me take your bags. It’s not too far from here, but we should

start now before the light goes.

Stead: On foot again, eh? Back to nature? How odd that we should not be able to take to the air by now, Watts. That could be your next project - a flying machine!

Watts stops, looks at him and laughs... straight into instrumental reprise of (1). As they leave the station precinct shadows emerge from the sides of buildings: The Wreckers, a gang of ne’erdowells who have no understanding of progress, and for whom technology is to be despised.

Wrecker 1: (sneering) ‘Human society’ - Pah! (they laugh but Wrecker 1 cuts them off)

Wrecker 1: Forget human society - human society couldn’t care less - why should we care

about them?

Wrecker 3: Right. Why should we care?

Wrecker 2: When you can’t get a ticket cos you can’t afford the fare

Who cares about trains?

Wrecker 4: Who cares about anything?

Wrecker 3: ‘Progress’. Hah! They’re all so sure - just cos they’ve got some clock up there

that tells the time, they think the future’s brighter! Well, I’ve got news for them! It ain’t -

it’s not going to be any brighter next year, or the year after, or in the next bleedin’

century.

Wrecker 1: I reckon it won’t be brighter in an undred years.

Wrecker 2: A fahsand!

Wrecker 4: An undred fahsand!
Wrecker 1: Never - at - all.

Wrecker 3: And if it ever is, I’ll be there to make sure they remember - just remember - what it’s

really all about.

2/ Nothing but Nothing (Wreckers)

Got no job, no employment

Coupla bob - no enjoyment

Sitting around - it’s what we’re ‘ere for -

Nothing but nothing is all we care for

Got no fancy clothes to suit’ya

Got no friends, got no future,

Society’s taken from us by theft

Nothing but nothing’s what we’ve got left

Got no cash, got no credit

Wanna splash | out? Forgeddit!

Cut all their pockets - it’s what they’re made for

Nothing but nothing is what we’re paid for

Ain’t got nothing, nothing to play for

Nothing to do, nothing to stay for;

Nothing but nothing’s our expectation

Nothing but nothing’s our destination.

"Give and it shall be given"
That’s the sure way to Heaven

Save up the interest as you earn;

Nothing but nothing is our return...

Got no fancy clothes to suit’ya

Got no friends, got no future,

Society’s taken from us by theft

Nothing but nothing’s what we’ve got left

Got no luck, got no lodging

Always stuck, always dodging

Over the tracks and into the siding

Nothing but nothing’s where we’re hiding

Ain’t got nothing, nothing to play for

Nothing to do, and nothing to stay for;

Nothing but nothing’s our expectation

Nothing but nothing’s our destination

[Cut-down dance of wreckers. A police whistle is heard]

[urgently][ Over the tracks and into the shadows

Into the sidings and down the cut

Hide in the darkness while they’re searchin’

Stick to your word and keep it shut

 

(whispered) Stick to your word and keep it shut.

The following sets of dialogue are underscored

Police2: Nothing here sir: they’ve completely vanished. One moment they’re here, the next they’ve gone, quick as Jack Flash.

Police1: Nothing new there; have you checked the tracks?

Behind the sheds? Down by the footbridge?

Police3: All clean as a whistle, Serg.

[pause]

Police1: Well - no point hangin’ around; move on... (they move...)

Wreckers (emerging)

Got no luck, got no lodging

Always stuck, always dodging

Over the tracks and into the siding

Nothing but nothing’s where we’re hiding

Chorus (overlaid) We all await at the turn of the centuries

What has been promised - the greatest adventure is

Coming each minute the clock ticks by

This is the progress of all mankind

As the wreckers hear these fatal words they freeze and slink away

.

Scene 2: The year 1897: Watts’s Drawing Room. Evening

Blackout, as the music fades away, leaving only the sound of a ticking clock. As shadowy figures emerge, a pre-recorded voice-over is heard: loud, authoritative, optimistic, a Pathe news voice. Alternatively, this speech could be taken by the ‘PROGRESS CHORUS’ In blackout….

Voiceover: Ladies and Gentleman, society is advancing. We may travel from A to B at speeds which would have seemed scarce conceivable only twenty years ago. Since the advent of steam locomotion, times exceeding forty miles an hour have been registered, and it seems that this progress will not be stopped. By exponential process, we may, before

the beginning of the twentieth century, be able to attain speeds greater than one

hundred miles per hour!

Only now do the lights come up We are at a domestic hearth. Lamplight. Around the table sit Steadman (the author), plus the psychologist, the doctor, the lawyer, the accountant, and Louisa Watts. On the table, the model of the Time Machine. A hum of general approval

Watts (continuing the voice): These facts are not in dispute. But tonight, I want you, if you will, to

look at the question of travel from another perspective. How would it be, if you were to travel not only in the three dimensions of length, and breadth, and height, but also in terms of time?

Doctor That is easy, we do so already: when I get on the train at Banbury I am - so old. By the time I reach you here in the metropolis I have aged. true, by an infinitesimal degree (laughter) but, nevertheless I am older.

Watts: Indeed, doctor, you are quite right: when we travel, whether by foot, or in a train. we pass through time.

Stead: This much is obvious. Watts, I have not just travelled from Oxford in order to hear this!

Watts: Perhaps you will understand me better, then, by the time you return. After all, you will have grown older, and perhaps wiser, on your train journey.

General laughter, but Steadman is muted, and remains so for the rest of the scene:

Lawyer: Well, tains are one thing, but I fail to understand you reference to height. We have no free

choice as to the height at which we travel in a train.

Louisa: Perhaps, but what of balloons, sir? In a balloon we may determine our altitude as we go.

Watts: Precisely my dear, and so it is, I believe, with Time.

Mrs Jay: More tea, Doctor?

Filby: No, no... that is the difficulty. You can move about in all directions of Space, but you cannot move about in Time.

Watts: (Beat) Which is the germ of my great discovery! If we look at Time as the fourth

dimension, consider a geometry of the world inclusive of Time. Why, if we may move freely in terms of length, breadth, and height, may we not also move in Time?

Bot: Well, if you are right, the advantages would be enormous. Imagine, for instance,

being able to verify the accepted account of the Battle of Hastings... [all laugh]

Filby: Or joining in the great scientific discoveries...[laugh]

Doctor: Or getting one’s Greek from the very lips of Plato - or (points at Stead) Homer! [laugh]

Watts: (not reading their levity) Yes! Imagine such a journey: Whom might we meet? What see? What experiences might we have? ...

 

3/ Which of us will travel into Time (Watts) / Flight of Fancy (Steadman)

 

Watts (speaks): Which of us will travel into time?

Where might we go to and what would we see?

How many times have you thought of that journey

How many times have you had such a scheme?

This is my secret; this is my yearning

If I could make you believe in my dream!

 

Secrets that are numberless are mine

What would you give to be able to see...

What it is drives me to find out the answer

What it is drives all the passion of youth?

This is the moment, this is the chance of

a lifetime of study, to find out the truth

Which of us will travel into time?

Where might we go to and what would we see?

Stead: Don’t be absurd Watts

Haven’t you heard what

They’re saying to you

about your flight of fancy?

Don’t be absurd Watts

Has it occurred, Watts

They’re mocking you now

You’ve not the slightest chance!

Don’t be so vain Watts

The danger is plain, What’s

The matter with you

Do you believe this nonsense?

Don’t be absurd Watts

Haven’t you heard Watts?

Watts: Which of us will travel into time?

Where might we go to and what would we see?

Stead: Listen to me, to

Hear the voice of reason

Stead: Call me a cynic, Watts, but there’s only one way you will convince me, and that is by means of a practical demonstration...

Watts: You say so? You, Steadman. You, a man of imagination, require the proof of your own eyes?

Stead: My work is all proved by the eyes. Take my new book, for example: the characters are all the characters you might meet around you on any day, in any town, in any street. This is the natural realism, Watts, not your science fiction.

Watts: What of you, gentlemen? You too require empirical evidence?

Doctor: Mrs Jay’s tea-cakes are empirical enough for me, Watts. Thank you m’dear. [laughter]

Watts: You are agreed, then, that scientific proof is what is required? Well then. Watch!

[He whips off a cloth and reveals the model of the time machine]]

Accnt: The machine is very delicate.

Stead: Those rods there, what are they made of?

Filby: This is of ivory, this lever, of brass, this -

Accnt: Extraordinary!

Filby: of nickel....

Stead: And this? [points]

Doctor: It looks like twisted crystal. It is beautifully made.

But go on, look more carefully. I don’t want to waste it, only to be told that I am a quack.

Stead: Waste the machine? What can you mean?

Louisa: What you see is Gregory’s model for a Time Machine. But it is no ordinary model.

This is a working prototype.

Accnt: You mean...?

Watts: Yes, this little model here is your proof. Presently I am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will vanish, pass into future time, and disappear. [Long pause]

Now.... if you are ready, gentlemen. Stand back...

He is about to press the lever when suddenly he turns to Steadman.

No. Lend me your hand.

He takes Steadman’s hand and presses the lever with his forefinger. There is a breath of wind, that extinguishes a candle on the mantelpiece. The machine swings round, becomes an eddy of glittering brass, and is gone. Silence for a long time.

Doctor: Good gracious!

Suddenly, the lawyer sweeps up the tablecloth. They dive under the table. There is nothing there. They all chase around the room frantically, looking for the model. It is nowhere. Watts meanwhile calmly fills his pipe.

Watts: Well?

Filby: Look here, are you In earnest about this?

Doctor: Do you seriously believe that that machine has travelled into time?

Watts: [lightly] Certainly!The machine has passed - into whatever other point of time, by a

route which we cannot see. Look!

He passes his hand through the space once occupied by the machine

Now - what do you say?

Lawyer: Don’t be absurd, Watts - you cannot travel through walls!

Acct: The model was a trick -

Doctor: Like that ghost you showed us last Christmas!

Filby: Even if you are telling the truth, Watts, what do you intend?

Watts: What you have seen is only a model. But I have been working on a full-size version, big enough to carry one person.

Bot: Only one? And that person will be - yourself?

Watts: Of course.

Filby: So, Watts, you would travel into Time and leave your wife here alone? (He shoots a glance at Louisa)

Louisa: (swallowing) Gregory and I - have an understanding... he has promised ...

Watts: (interrupting) Indeed I have. My absence will be brief, and besides, the machine will allow my

return at any time, should Louisa be in danger. In the meantime, gentlemen, I am sure she may count on your support.

Filby: Indeed, Watts. Have no fear, (beat) Louisa. (he smiles at her)

Stead: It can never work!

Watts: You require further proof? Then accompany me, if you will, tomorrow, to the station, where, from my laboratory, I intend to explore - time! And now, gentlemen, I must bid you goodnight. Mrs Jay will show you out... Come, Louisa -

She goes to him at the upstageright door (bedroom). They exit. The group stare at the table. Then they break out in busy whispering:

Stead: Preposterous!

Filby: But what if he is right? What if the model was not a fake?

Doctor: Do you really mean that?

Filby: Well, if he has really cracked the problem of travelling across time, the commercial

possibilities would be endless - we could certainly make use of Watts’s discovery and become rich men.

4/ Which of us will travel into Time?

Filby: Which of us will travel into time?

Where might we go to and what would we see?

Lawyer Which of my cases will be celebrated?

Filby Who will unlock all the codes of the mind?

Acct: How will financial investments be rated?

Doctor What new diseases and cures might I find?

Acct: Secrets that are numberless are mine

What would you give to be able to see...

All: Which of our names will be seen over doorways, (with swell of orch)

on plinths and on statues, to all men decreed?

academies, institutes, libraries. more ways

than you’d imagine you’d time to read?

Lawyer: Will they have solved the eternal dilemmas?

Filby: Will they have solved the insoluble crime?

Acct: Will they look back to condone or condemn us

Bot: What will we find when we travel in time?

Filby: (aside) And if Watts were to disappear, why not take the benefit?

Filby: I see a time when the world is uncertain

Nothing is stable and nothing is fixed

All that remains is a shadowy curtain

What is behind it, who can predict?

All: Which of us will travel into time?

Where might we go to and what would we see?

All: Which of our names will be seen over doorways,

on plinths and on statues, to all men decreed?

academies, institutes, libraries. more ways

than you’d imagine you’d time to read?

Stead: (stops them in their tracks) No! You have seen those idlers at the station - what if they

are still there in the future?.

(sings) Why should you think that the future is golden

Why should it seem such a brave new frontier?

When to my thinking the vision is cold and

Comfortless, filling my mind with fear...

All:(sing to downstage) We all await at the turn of the centuries

What has been promised - the greatest adventure is
Coming each minute the clock ticks by -

This is the progress of all mankind!

Stead: Where is the streetlamp, where is the station?

Where is the omnibus, where is the train?

Where is the warmth of civilization

When all that remains is the falling rain?

Fade to black

Scene 3: Louisa and Watts alone

Louisa moves d/s to the table. She goes to the table and picks up the tea-plate. She stops, glancing at the empty table where the machine once was, and then stares out at the audience.

Watts: (entering with a candle) Louisa? [she remains silent] Is there anything ...?

Louisa: Gregory - I cannot sleep. I know that you have worked for so long on this -

But I cannot, I cannot bear to think of you -

Watts: But, my angel - If progress is to mean anything, then I must convince them.

Come with us. Be part of this with me. Think! We are at the very edge of human understanding. Just one more step, and - who knows?

Louisa: But where will you go?

Watts: Not where, my love, but when. As far as the machine will take me, but all

the time I shall be in my place. In another dimension, I’ll be here, with you -

Louisa: I do understand. ... it’s just that, just that...

Watts: Louisa, my love, take this for me.

He gives her a small silver pocket watch

If, tomorrow, anything should happen to me, keep this safe... It is set at the present hour, set with all the accuracy of the station clock.

Louisa: But this was my wedding-gift to you! Inscribed especially -

Watts: "In my end is my beginning" And now both the watch and the inscription are proofs that I shall return. (and speaks straight into..)

5/Always

Watts: Here, in our home we have loved,

Here in the fireside glow

Think of our love, my darling, think

of the wonderful stories we used to know

 

Magic lights, Arabian nights

Carpets of colours, mother-of-pearl

Distant lands, foreign sands,

All the wonderful places we dreamt we’d go

But always - I’d come back, my dear, and

Always You would wait for me.

Always - our love would keep us near, and

Always here we both would be.

Louisa: How I remember those tales,

But when the lamps are low

How many times have I waited here

and wished that the shadows would disappear

Stories of sorrow told till tomorrow

Stories that never seemed to end

Distant wars, foreign shores

All of the world seemed falling around me

 

(gently) If never - you came back my dear, if

Never - you once returned to me.

Ever - our love would cry in tears, if

Never together we could be.

Filby: She is concerned. Can it be true, then? He does mean to vanish, just like his model...

 

Filby: How I have longed for your glance

And now the lamps are low

How many times have I hoped and prayed

And wished for the day that would bring me here

 

If Watts’s experiment works

Tomorrow my dream may be

Think of our love, my darling, think

Of the wonderful moments still to come...

 

Watts: With you, my love, with you

Whatever you say, whatever you do

For eternity and beyond

I’ll be

F+W: With you, my darling, with you

Wherever you are, wherever you go

For ever, for ever fond

You’ll see....

L,W,F: Ever - We love each other now, and (Filby: Ever, I love Louisa so, and

Never allow our love to fade

 

F+W: I will not leave, not now, not ever

I would not leave you alone - to

Gether - we cannot choose but be to

Gether - together we will be for

Ever - We love each other now and

Never allow that love to fade

As they move, Filby’s face disappears from the french windows and the wreckers appear; wind.

Wreckers: Got no luck, got no lodging / Always stuck, always dodging

Over the tracks and into the siding / Nothing but nothing’s - where we’re hiding....

As they chant, the scene changes to

Scene 4: The Station workshop. Evening

Fog. Railway lanterns. Behind the gates, a hiss of steam, a train departs. A shadowy group - the wreckers gather in the gloom.

Porter: That’s all; last train tonight sir. I’ll lock the yard gates, sir.

Police1: Very good, Peters; if there’s any more trouble, send a man down to the station,

we’ll be up in no time. Hello - who are these?

Porter: That’ll be Mr Watts’s party sir. He mentioned they’d be down about now.

Watts: Good evening, officer. Peters? [Peters gives him the key to the shed]

The necessary arrangements have been made; the stationmaster has been informed. Goodnight, Peters. (to policeman) Sergeant.

Police1: Goodnight, sir, see you in the morning. Oh, and erm - Do be careful Mr Watts - we’ve checked the place for trouble, sir, but you can’t be too careful...

not in this day and age...

He looks behind at the assembled party, shakes his head in puzzlement, and exits. Peters shuts the gates, and the shed doors open simultaneously to reveal the covered machine... The dialogue should be busy:

Watts: (whipping off cover, air of a magician) Behold!

Acct: Great Scott!

Stead: Watts, it’ll never work. That contraption? That parrot cage?

Watts: What you see before you is nothing other than a larger version of the model, at a ratio of sixteen to one.

Filby: A miracle, Watts. Why, look at the care with which it is built: the same metals,

the same materials.

Doctor: I remain unconvinced. A model is one thing; but how will this ever leave the

ground?

Watts: Leave the ground? You still have not understood. This machine does not travel

in space, but in time. In a few moments, when I activate the mechanism, you will see me disappear. But I will not have moved from this spot. I shall be here, but not here; it’s quite simple!

As he explains, and they listen, enter the Wreckers: they assemble around the gates in the darkness.

Wrecker 1 It’s like I said, every night, just at the same time, he arrives, unlocks it and goes in.

Wrecker 2: But what’s he doin’?

Watts: There’ll be risks, of course.

Louisa turns away, with a sharp breath, catching Watts momentarily off-guard. Filby moves across to her.

Watts: .. but they are risks that can be easily reversed.

Wreckers: Who cares what ‘e’s doin’? He’s got the key!

Wrecker 3: But we don’t need no key. No keys for us, lads. When have gates ever held us up?

Wreckers: Never!

Filby: And, if the machine should be broken?
Watts: Impossible. The material I have developed may be light, but it is stronger than railway steel. It is, in short, unbreakable.

Stead: In this century, perhaps, but what of future times?

Watts: You admit then, that there will be such futures? Because, if you do, you are half-way there!

Steadman: (dreaming) Watts, your magic begins to work on me....

Silence. They look at him. As S sings, he wanders towards the machine and touches it, tries its texture, considers its feel.

6/ I have heard

Stead: I have heard of Mephistopheles

I have heard of stranger alchemies

than these.

Lawyer How he tempts and how he still confounds

Filby: How he fills the ear with all the sounds

that please.

All: But what if there’s a chance

Small as it may seem

To travel into Time, to say we do not dream

to say, this is no dream?

Filby: Is such travel so impossible?

If such boundaries are crossable

Then what?

Bot: All those places that I plan to see

Ask yourself is this a fantasy

Or not?

All: What if there’s a chance

Small as it may seem

To travel into Time, to say we do not dream

to say, this is no

a crash offstage; music continues, underscoring the following dialogue...

Louisa: Gregory! Listen!

Outside, the noise of a lock being tried. Voices. Now the music combines with...

Wrecker 1: Smash it all up - their progress, their dreams

Wrecker 2: Smash into pieces their cocktail drinks

Wrecker 3: Smash their inventions, smash up their schemes

Wrecker 4: Smash it all up, cos Society stinks

Underscore the following, combining into ‘Going on!’

Acct: Who’s there?

Louisa: Gregory!

Filby: Watts - someone’s breaking in!

Watts: Come - there is no time to lose. Gentlemen, hold the door.

Before the hands reach the half-hour, I shall be here again, with you.

Doctor: Watts, look out!

Watts: (mounting machine) Steadman! Don’t touch - the machine is not yet ready! Louisa,

look after my watch!

 

A whirring, throbbing sound fills the auditorium. The cage starts to heft and shudder violently. It appears, momentarily to leave the ground. A wind around the cage. Watts holds on to the cage but is swept upwards with a cry. Louisa grasps Watts but it is too late - he is borne aloft. She falls away. Watts wrestles with Steadman for control of the lever. Spinning lights fill the space. The wreckers break in and grab Louisa but fall backwards with force and scatter. All of this underscored.

Wreckers: What’s goin’ on? What ve eck? Ere - Mister - What’s goin ‘ on?

Goin on? Goin on? Goin on ----

 

7/On into Time

Watts - grand, victoriously:

Going on!

On into Time

Into the future

Into the future of our lives!

Both: Going on!

On into Time

Passing the bound’ry

Into the future of mankind!

Stead: Where are we going? / What are you showing

Me? Where is the world I know?

Watts: No need to question! This is your answer

This is your destiny!

Watts: Haven’t you always longed for fame?

Always wanted to make your name?

Didn’t you want - to survive

Into the future of our lives?

 

All Going on!

On into Fame!
It’s what I’ve wanted

It’s what I’ve wanted all my life

Watts: And you will have that fame - I promise you!

Stead: But look down, Watts. Those shapes - what are they doing?

Watts: Those you see are shadows, Steadman - ghosts - they know nothing of our existence - they are the voices of eternity, the voices that will never die.

Wreckers: What’s the noise? Where’ve they gone

Come on boys - cut and run

If you want - to survive

Watts: Into the future of our lives!

Watts: Haven’t you always wondered why?

They’re always there? they’ll never die Wreckers: ..... We’ll never die

Wreckers: We’ll go on - this is your answer

Into the future of your lives!

Wreckers: Smash it all up - their progress, their dreams S/W: Going on!

On into Fame!
Wreckers: Smash their inventions, smash up their schemes It’s what I’ve wanted

Smash it all up cos Society stinks! It’s what I’ve wanted all my life

following which, suddenly, all is quiet. The hum of the machine going off into time.

Stead: Watts, I think I see your wife: there! In danger!

Watts: That cannot be my wife. Look at the dials! 1950, 1960 - Look at the dials - my wife, Steadman, is long in her grave.

The last word echoes around as the lights fail; in a single spot, Louisa appears d/s:

8/ I watch by your watch

Louisa: I watch by your watch

Keep my eyes on the hands

The hands on its face, my darling

And though I can’t catch

Even one of its seconds

The face that I see seems to smile....

I watch all around

Keep my eyes on the door

For the shadow that seems to be stealing

And though my heart pounds

And the darkness may beckon

Your watch is a comfort the while

Watts: Keep the best time / By my watch, Louisa

Filby: All the best times / For us both, Louisa

Louisa: Never leave me!… Watts: Going on!… Wreckers: Smash it all up!…

Filby: Never leave me!… Steadman: Going on!… Smash it all up!…

Watts: You see, man? You can’t say this is a dream any more! This is your future! Your fame!

Stead: Then if it is, Watts, let me have it - let me have it now!

(Plinths): What if there’s a chance

Small as it may seem

To travel into time

To say this is no dream!

Louisa: He will never leave me - he will never leave me - he will never leave me *cut repeats (PAF)

Chords build steadily to climactic woomph:

Steadman for a second time wrestles with the controls. Watts resists - the machine starts to spin out of control. Shouts: "No, leave it alone! The lever!" etc. Watts attempts to regain control, but the machine lurches. Steadman falls, appearing to float in space before falling gently to the ground. Aloft, the machine spins into darkness. Wind sound.

Scene 5: The year 1997 - the Universal Library

Steadman lies on the damp floor of a dim and apparently deserted place.

Stead: Watts! ... Watts! [he starts to move upstage, downstage again, exploring....] Watts!?

Gone ... he’s gone ...The Time Machine! I knew it.... [lightly]

Readers: Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Stead: Huh?! What’s that? .... What is this place? Here’s a step - I don’t recall.... and here some kind of shelf - a door - and here on the wall - if only I can re---each........

Lights come on full.

Lib: Can I be of assistance, sir?

Stead: Where is the platform? Where is the train?

Lib: Train, sir?

Stead: This is the Central Station?

Lib: It was - but this is 1997, sir - the millennium will soon be with us!

Stead: I don’t understand - what is this place?

Lib: Why, sir, don’t you know?

As they sing, the library scene is prepared. The idea is to create a sense of clockwork efficiency. Tables slide effortlessly into position, lamps are switched on in order, and people move to designated positions. Cards are stamped, books shelved and returned, etc. This is sung as a stately progress.

 

9/ A Book for every Man (Chorus)...

There is a book for every man

Here in the uni- ver- sal lib-ra-ry

Here is a place for all to scan

All of the universe the eye can see!

(triplets) All of the excellent authors we celebrate

All of the best of the books we have read to date!

There is a book (There is a book) for every man!
All of your fate (All of your fate) is written in each page!
There is a word for every man

Your name is there - if you look carefully!

Lib assts: Dickens and Wordsworth and all of the Bronte

Sisters are here if you know what you want is - a -

Book from the universal library,

Look in the universal library!

We’ve got a ticket for ev-er-y man

Borrow tomorrow and then if you want you can

Chorus: Climb all the stairs in the library

Free from your cares for an hour in the library

Ev-e-ry question you care to name

Every author who’s ever been touched by fame

Miss Hornrim: From 1900 to now

These are the words that will live for ever

All of the centuries’ great endeavour

Written for all to see!

Instrumental continues under this dialogue. He moves to go, but turns back.

Miss Hornrim: May I help you sir? Is there a particular book, a classification?

Stead: No, er… That is, yes....there is one thing. I wonder whether you have a record of

one book...Here, I’ll write it down...

He does so - instrumental continues as they search for the book...ladders, steps, etc...

Chorus: Climb all the stairs in the library

Free from your cares for an hour in the library

Ev-e-ry question you care to name

Stead (speaks): Who is it that’s been touched by fame?

Miss Hornrim: We have no record here of your book, Mr Steadman…There’s Bernard Shaw?

Stead: Bernard Shaw? [Stead receives each book, looks, and discards it]

Miss Hornrim: There’s Stacpoole?

Stanford?

or Stanley.

Steadman (speaks) But no Steadman? You have no Steadman?

Miss Hornrim: There is one other book, perhaps you’d like to see, by a Gregory Watts?

Stead: Watts?

Miss Hornrim: Yes - here it is - by Gregory Watts. [She hands him the book]

"The Time Machine".

Stead: (sings) But no Steadman?

All: No - no Steadman’s

Ever been read by ourselves -

No Steadman
No Steadman

Resides on the library’s shelves!

Chor: Great men of letters are housed in the library

You can’t do better than browse in our library!

There is a book (There is a book) for every man!
All of your fate (All of your fate) is written in each page!
There is a word for every man

Your name is there - if you look carefully!

Dickens and Wordsworth and all of the Bronte

Sisters are here if you know what you want is - a

Book from the universal library,

Look in the universal library!

Ev-e-ry question you care to name

Ev-er-y author who’s been touched by fame

Here in the universal

We’re in the universal

Come to the universal

Librar- ee!!!!!

The library clock strikes. A repeat of the coda as the stage clears.

Scene 6: A deserted alleyway: Steadman alone...

10/ I have heard (2)

Stead: Watts, you monster... you were right - the future was waiting for me. But what future? A future where I am unrecognized, where my reputation is just so much ... dust ...

As he moves, he is deliberately jostled by a group of wreckers crossing upstage.

Wrecker1: Oi - look where ya goin’, mate!

Wrecker2: What you want, eh?

Wrecker1: Where’s ya manners, Grandad? (calling after him) Don’t they teach ya nuffink at school?

Wrecker3: Yeah!

Wrecker1: What you got that stuff on for anyhow. Fancy dress, is it?

Stead: Now look here...

Wrecker 3: Now look here... Talks fancy dunn’e?

Wrecker 1: (grabbing book) ‘The Time Machine’ ? What’s that then, eh?

Wrecker 2: (grabbing book from W1) Yeah..

Wrecker 4: Ere, let’s ‘ave a look!

They quickly throw the book among themselves, Steadman vainly trying to catch it as it flies...}

Stead: Now look, I don’t know who you are...

Wrecker 1: No more than we don’t. Who are we then eh? What’s my name, eh?

Wrecker2: Yeah - what’s is name?

Wrecker1: What’s my name?

Stead: I really don’t

Wrecker 1: Don't what? What don’cha?
Stead: This is simply not amusing.

Wrecker 1: Amusing, eh? Amusing? Oooh - we are not amused...

Wrecker 2: Who said that then?
Wrecker1: Eh? Who said that one...

Wrecker2: Someone said it.

Wrecker1: I said it.

Wrecker2: Nah -someone else. Someone famous....

Wreckers: (with real menace) Good Queen Vic, was it, eh? Good Queen Vic?

Stead: How dare you insult - Her Majesty!

Wrecker 1: You what?

Wrecker 2: Who asked you to speak?

Wrecker 1: Look, Grandad, you startin’ with us? We don’t care if

you know all the answers. We don’t care if you dress weird. .

Wrecker 2: Yeah.

Wrecker 1: In fact, we don’t care about you at all. Ain’ that right?

Wrecker 2: ‘sRight.

Wrecker 3: So come on, mate, let’s be having that hat

Wrecker x: and that silk scarf

Wrecker 1: and that fancy watch... and that book!

Stead: No - let go! Help!

He is savagely beaten to the ground. They throw the book at him.

Wrecker 1: All right, lads, let’s go... There you go, Grandad, ave a good read of that...

10/I have heard (2)

I have written many words before

Social commentaries by the score

But what

If it’s true that this is what will be

Then it seems that all societ-y

Is lost

And what of my own name

The hopes that I have nursed

If travelling into time, I find my dream of fame

I find my dream is cursed?

Steadman raises himself and staggers d/s to the book. He picks it up....

Stead: ( whispers) "Gregory Watts - The Time Machine" [Blackout]

 

lights slowly fade to Blackout

 

The Time Machine Act Two

Scene 1: The year 802,701. A pleasant valley. Trees. Dawn. Watts alone.

A shadow flits across the stage:

Watts (in dream) Louisa?

Watts (sitting up) Steadman?

Watts (now standing, amazed..) Where are they? Strange music! The voices of children

in the branches!

Eloi: Ah-nee-maaaah!

Watts: Strange sounds! All around me...!

Eloi: Ah-nee-maaah!

Watts: Ah-neee-maaah!

Eloi: Ah-neee-maaah!

Watts: Stranger still, they answer me.

He gets out a pocket telescope

These buildings - temples? (swinging round) Is that - a figure ? (beat)

It was, I see now, a dream... these voices... playing only in my imagination...

He fetches out a notebook

The land is bountiful; the buildings a ruin of a civilization that is past... hah! Past!

The machine... has survived. The dials set at 802 thousand, 701..Before me, where my workshop was a broad river valley - To the east, the ruins cluster... to the north, the valley side sweeps up;

I cannot see beyond the crest... the wood’s too dense...

Starlight effect (mirror ball) and a rosy hue as the Eloi folk enter in a stately procession

10/ Flower song (Eloi/Weena/Watts)

E: Ah wee a na ma

Lah nee Lah nee Lah nee

Lah wee a na ma

Wah le wah le wah le

W1:Out of the morning

I must have fallen

From the far heaven

Like a bright angel downwards hurled

Far from their under

standing I stand here

Stand in the splendour of their world

W2: Falling like flowers

Fall from the morning

Fall to the evening

Into the evening of their world

Weena: Ah wee a na ma

Lah nee Lah nee Lah nee

Lah wee a na ma

Wah le wah le wah le

W3: (to Weena) : What of your learning?

What of your language?

And are your people all the same?

What of your yearning?

What of your anguish?

Tell me your secrets - Tell me your name...

Weena: (two long, drawn out sighing syllables) Wee-nahh!

W5 (spoken) Weena, they call you?

E: Lah-nee-lah-nee-lah-nee

W: And, all your people

E: Eloi, Eloi, Eloi

Weena: Eloi, Weena

Watts: (relishing it) Eloi - I can scarcely credit it - these Eloi must be happiest beings on earth! And this, Weena, what is this? For me, it is called "flower"

Weena looks at him and laughs, then picks up the flower and stretches out her hand to offer the flower to Watts. Suddenly a distant moan: the Eloi cease to sing.

Eloi: (whispers) Mor-lock!

Eloi hurry upstage and form a waiting tableau, then look back and gesture to Weena...

Watts: (downstage, muses) ‘Mor-lock’ - a beautiful sound - ‘mor- lock - a flower....’ Come closer

Weena - it’s so nearly dark - I can hardly see your face...

It is too late, Two-three Morlock pounce from behind the TM. One of them sweeps Weena up and she appears to faint, appearing to offer herself to the Morlock. The second restrains Watts, the third dances around the tableau. Watts disables the first, beats off the second and strikes the third, which he pins down.

Watts: Quickly, my matches... .. Let us see what this creature is! (He strikes one) Augh! What a hideous thing! Another! (Strikes again) Good God - what is this thing!

He strikes again - this time the flame holds: we see the creature momentarily - then it struggles frantically and gets away

Watts: Weena - Weena! (reviving her) It’s I, Gregory - Weena! (he manages to revive her) ...

(as he tends her). Good God - what would that pallid beast have done to you? I thought by ‘Morlock’ you meant a flower of joy; but quite the opposite was true. Your paradise is not so sweet - these creatures occupy a place in your world too.

Watts comforts her; Weena looks up at him; he administers the medicine... she is frightened still, and attempts to escape him - he chases her, catches her and hold her in his arms: Musical interlude ("Ah-wee-a-na-mah….")

Watts: The light has gone; (noticing) but what is that glinting in the moonlight? A pair of eye-glasses? How can these have got here? Look, Weena, hold them up to the light!

He holds her close as they both look through the lens.

It is as if I see through them, back to my own time. Through this lens I see them all - Filby, Mrs Jay, my darling Louisa…

Music as enter Louisa and Mrs Watts

Scene 2: 1897: Watt’s Drawing Room. Day Two: late evening

Louisa at her embroidery is startled by a crash from the other side of time. Enter Filby, a blizzard at his back

Filby: Good evening, Mrs Jay, Mrs Watts

Mrs Jay: (taking his coat) It’s good of you to drop by, Mr Filby. (secretly) She gets so fretful at nights, Mrs Watts does. Always lingering by the window, ‘case she spots ‘im comin’ ‘ome.

Filby: (taking the watch from the table) A curious timepiece, Mrs Watts ... may I?

Louisa: Oh, please, I’d rather you...

Filby: (turning it) "In my End is my Beginning" - why, how appropriate...

Mrs Jay, would you excuse us - I have a few words which are for the ears of Mrs Watts

alone.

Mrs Jay: There are no secrets in this house, Mr Filby.

Filby: Even so - what I have to say is - of a delicate nature.

Louisa: Very well, Mrs Jay.

Mrs Jay proudly gathers things + departs.

Filby: Mrs Watts, I must be blunt. What your husband has enacted may well be - an elaborate

deception.

Louisa: Deception, Mr Filby? I don’t understand...

Filby: Forgive me - (in a lower voice he continues). Louisa, your husband may indeed have

succeeded in travelling into time.

Louisa: Then, what...?

Filby: That is not the deception of which I speak... There goes - a rumour - that your husband .

... your husband may be, unknown to you, consorting with another.

Louisa: No! Gregory would never allow such a thing. Mr Filby - your suggestion is more than improper - it is impossible. (emotionally) Please, leave.

Filby: (catching her) No - listen. Where is he? Where is Watts? Tell me that... If you

were sure of his fidelity - forgive me - you would have no doubt at all....

Every evening you sit at your embroidery, willing time to pass; you hear the silvery chime

of Gregory’s watch, you look up, occasionally, your eyes expectantly on the door...but

listen... it’s best that you know the truth:

12/Pattern on Pattern

despite his wicked intentions, Filby sings this caringly

Filby: I can assure you

Nothing is sure, you

Must know my story’s

No mere flight of fancy

Where he has been is

Plain to be seen, this

secret Machine is

not his only trick!

Louisa: Pattern on pattern

Shadow on shadow

I have been weaving

Such a dream of longing

This is the pattern I keep for my husband...

This is the pattern I keep for my true love

Filby: To travel in time was

A dream, a conception

To travel in time

No more than his deception...

This is the dream , the dream he exalts

This is the dream by which he plays you false! *cut repeats (PAF)

Filby: But you must see, the dream’s unravelling

All of your pattern, all of his love...

Filby: To travel in time was

A dream, a conception

To travel in time

No more than his deception...

This is the dream , the dream he exalts

This is the dream by which he plays you false!

Louisa now rises, and as band continues to play Pattern on Pattern,

Louisa: Gregory! It cannot be true - (she raises her voice) I will not allow it to be true!

Mrs Jay (entering) : Is everything alright, mum? [To Filby] There, you see, you’ve upset her...

Filby: No, really , I...

Mrs Jay: Mr Filby, I think it’s best that you leave. I can look after Mrs Watts quite adequately.

Good night to you sir - I think you know where the front door is.

Filby: Good night, Mrs Watts (exit)

Mrs Jay: There, that’s better. I’ve never cared for that man.

Louisa: Dear Mrs Jay, you don’t understand. It is not Filby I fear .Every night I stay awake...Those men, in the street. Each night I hear the sounds of breaking glass. Or a door being broken down. Oh if only Gregory were here....

Louisa: Pattern on pattern

Keeping me close to you

Pattern on pattern

Making you mine

Weaving a way across the centuries

Weaving a way across the realms of time....

As the light fades she remains spotted, and as the scene closes, figures are peering through the window

But they are not the wreckers, they are the morlocks, who are now seen gathering around the Time Machine. As they dismantle the machine, we once more hear the voices of wreckers, but now they are morlock, singing "Ha-ha-na ha-ha-na" to the tune of "Got no job...."

Scene 3: The year 802,701: morning

Musical link. Dawn light, slow, with birdsong...Watts awakes. The machine is gone. Weena stands over him holding a brass rod.

Watts: What is it Weena?

Weena: Goree- a na ma - a na ma - a na ma

Watts: (sits her down - instructively...)Where have you taken this from, Weena? You must not take this - without this, I cannot - return - to my wife... Look. This part is essential to the

machine... come, we’ll replace it.

Watts stops in his tracks. The machine is vanished. A musical moment

Watts: Gone!

Weena: Goree?

Watts: Don’t you see? They must have come in the night, while I dreamt. So - I can’t get back. My contract with Time‘s... cancelled.

Suddenly, a noise. They see what they think is a Morlock, and hide.. The figure suddenly leaps into c/s.

Weena: Mor-lock!

Watts: (hoarse whisper) Quickly, Weena - Is that one of them returning for the final piece?

Look, how it staggers - what a horrible animal!

13 / Drink from this bottle

Stead: (for it is he) Drink from this bottle / In it is what’ll

Give you your greatest desire

In place of your flower / I’ll give you the power

Ful gift of Promethean fire!

Drink just a little / and you’ll find that it’ll

Teach you all these secrets of mine;

This is the stuff / You can’t get enough of

What is it? The great God of Wine!

Great God of Wine!

Great God of Mine!
Here is the secret I’ve brought from my Time!

Unstop this stopper / Drink just a drop’o

The liquids that shimmer and shine!
In here’s the proof / the infallible truth

The knowledge that makes you divine!

Great God of Wine!

Great God of Mine!
Here is the secret I’ve brought from my Time!

Watts creeps up with Weena - They leap on the figure and pin him to the ground. Suddenly - recognition.

Watts: Steadman!

Stead: Watts?

Watts: I don’t believe it - how can you be here? The only time machine is mine... I don’t

understand...

Stead: (notices them) My spectacles! You had them all along!
Watts: Steadman, you may have them upon condition... I demand to know. How did you get here. When? It is - impossible...

Stead: Ah! you have a little Eloi friend! (To Weena) Ah-na ma- weh- la - la wee mah

ne whe lah - eloi.

Weena: Leh-mann Lah we eloi lah we lah we! [exit Weena]
Watts: You are - familiar with them?

Stead: Of course! Nee- ma- weh!

Watts: And the language?

Stead: Oh... I picked it up, Watts.

Watts: Then you have been here .....

Stead: Oh, for months, Watts, months and months. Remember, time is relative: I may have set off after you did, but I arrived here more quickly - that (beat) is the meaning of progress!

Watts: But I still don’t understand. Why here? Why now?

Stead: Ah! Fruit time!

Re-enter Weena with Eloi. As fruit music plays, Eloi serve them with exotic fruit.

Stead: When I turned up, so to speak, in the dying days of the twentieth century, I found myself

- it was quite a shock - in the reading room of the British Library. At first, I didn’t see that I had travelled in time. It was as if nothing had changed - the library was as out of date as ever - but do you know what really upset me, Watts? No-one had heard of me.

That’s right: a hundred years into the future and not one of my works had lasted.

I thought I would never forget that awful shock of realizing that I would not go on for ever. But then - a miracle occurred. On one shelf, I chanced upon a small volume. Within its pages lay your story, Watts.

Watts: My story?

Stead: Yes - you wrote a book - "The Time Machine"

Watts: I did?

Stead: After you returned.

Watts: (realizing) After I returned?

Stead: And from that book I took my plans.

Watts: (excitedly) You - built a Time Machine as well?

Stead: Of course!

Watts: Then, Steadman, you may be able to help me...

Stead: Help you, Watts? Yes - I’ll help you - You remember our petty arguments and disagreements? Well, they are a thing of the past. I admit it, You were right, Watts! A future of progress! Nothing like the barren, bleak prospect I envisaged. But now, here we both are in the year eight hundred thousand-odd, and look - humanity has changed. People live peaceably with one another, and so can we. Listen, I’ve taught them a little song:

14/ This is the truth I’ve found (Steadman / Watts/ Eloi)

S (in spot) Right from the start of time

People have asked the same:

What is the greatest good

What is its name?

Is it pleasure, is it pain?

Is it leisure, is it labour?

Is it to love yourself

Or love your neighbour?

lights up on chorus, continue to spot Stead

What is happiness?

This is happiness! A

future of ease, a future of pleasure

What is happiness

This is happiness! A

world of delight, a world of endless leisure!

Is it the ideal world

of Plato or Aristotle?

Or is contentment found

Within a bottle?

Is it smiles, is it tears?

Is it poor or Is it rich?

Is it that or is it this

Please tell me which?

What is happiness?

This is happiness! A

future of ease, a future of pleasure

What is happiness

This is happiness! A

world of delight, a world of endless leisure!

W: No, it’s not like that: our happiness is just a dream!

Right from the start of time

People have known the score

Happy though they may seem,

Their hearts are sore:

Is it yearning, is it grief

Is it burning disbelief?

Is it to lose yourself

Or lose your faith?

Eloi: We’ve found the answer here

We’ve found the means to cure us

Of all our doubts and fears

Better than Epicurus!

S: It is pleasure. my old friend

It is pleasure without measure

It is pleasure without end

For us for ever!

*Cut slow motion (PAF) - the music now sinisterly underscores dialogue....

Watts: Steadman, you’re wrong. There is no happiness. I have seen this land with other eyes. These people who feed us fruit, these slender mortals, the Eloi...

Stead: Yes?

Watts: ...are not the only inhabitant of this time. Steadman... we are in danger from those other creatures, those pale shadows that emerge at night...

Stead: The morlock? No - they are interested only in Eloi, not in us.

Watts: Perhaps not us, but what of Weena? Steadman, listen... your machine

Stead: What machine?

Watts: The one which brought you here?

Stead: Gone, Watts. What was the point of it? I am content, I have what I want... why keep the thing? Here in our future, let’s relax. We may not have our reputations, but think, Watts, of the endless conversations we can have, the endless joy! More fruit? Na- we-la-cha-na naa!

Watts: Gone? You destroyed it?

Stead: Of course, why be sentimental? The future is waiting, and I had no need to return to the hardships of the past. Watts, we come from a century of thuggery and deceit. Why go back?

Stead: ( leisurely pace) Right from the start of time

People have wondered this:

How to achieve what is

The greatest bliss?

This is the truth I’ve found

This is the prize I’ve gained

This is the one I’ve waited for

This is my fame!

The Eloi scamper away as the stage is suddenly filled with bleached, spider-like figures, naked except for a loincloth of rags; their eyes like carbuncles, staring wildly, their flesh grey and thin... They form a circle around Watts, Steadman and Weena. then, panting, begin to dance, their voices chanting to a rhythm which makes them sound like panting dogs... Watts and Steadman are caught up in their dance... Weena is captured.

Watts: (turning on Steadman) Is THIS your perfect world? Where is she?

Stead: It is called the palace of Green Porcelain... Without doubt that is where she’ll be - If you insist on seeking her out, you may be able to find her there. It is where the morlock live!

As they walk to the footlights, a musical link to

Scene 4 : The year 802,701 - Outside the Palace of Green Porcelain, late evening

Suddenly, figures from Watts’s past: The Lawyer, the Acct, the Bot, the Doctor, wrapt in cobwebs, singing this song in a vision, as, upstage, two great monumental doors appear: the entrance to a mausoleum. As the scene changes, the figures chant…

16 / Flight of Fancy (3)

Don’t be absurd Watts

Haven’t you heard what

They’re saying to you

about your flight of fancy?

Don’t be absurd Watts

Has it occurred, Watts

They’re mocking you now

You’ve not the slightest chance

Don’t be so vain Watts

The danger is plain, What’s

The matter with you

Do you believe this nonsense

To travel in time is

A figment, a fiction

To travel in time

Is merely contradiction!

Watts and Steadman move the slab aside. A brazen Gong. The two sides of the set part and spin c/s revealing the narrowest of passages with a sharp beam emerging from upstage. Now they enter, smoke drifting across the floor.

Watts: Incredible! a vast gulf of blackness. It is like the entrance to the grave.

A distant tattoo, low... And now, by a lighting shift, Watts ‘emerges’ from darkness into the dust-laden set of the British Library of Act I. The scene is predominantly green... Ladders lead up to shelves...And on the plinths which stand at each corner, the characters of Watts’s past turn slowly to face d/s. All the following underscored with a dull throb.

Watts: Shh.. What is that noise?

Stead: I hear an incessant hum, and ... a smell ... Good God...

Stead: It is like the halitus of freshly-shed blood!!

Watts: Great God.... what is this place? no-one here... only ragged vestiges of glass in the windows, and the tiled floor thick with dust....This place, Steadman, is the ghost of some great monument of an intellectual age.... a gallery of Palaeontology? It might be, even -

music stops

Stead: A Library!

Watts: Did you know all this was here? Had you even thought? Look in these cases, along these miles of shelves... It is a record of the centuries. Here, Steadman - look, from the time of my humanity to the time of theirs, a complete history...

Stead: History... Watts? What’s the point? All that I hope for now is a life of pleasure. (exit)

Watts: Steadman? Steadman? Gone!

Weena: Weenah!!!!

Watts: Weena! Listen to my voice, and answer if you hear me!

17 / In your world (Watts, Weena, Lawyer, Acct, Doctor, Botanist on plinths)

Watts: In your world, Weena, I have found

What it might have taken me a life to know

Every second thought of mine was fame

But you, Weena, you remain the same.

Weena: Ah-wee-na- la pet ta na me

Ah wee- na - ta penna penna

Ah le weh te- ni Eloi

Ah wee- na - ta penna penna

but something stops him in his tracks... all the following as ‘recitative’

Watts (recit) What’s here? Books - from my time? -

and, here, "The Time Machine" My book!

As if - it cannot be so - someone knew I was coming....

Plinths: (chanting) "An exact account of The Time Traveller’s journey into the future of mankind"

Plinths: There is a book for every man,

Look on the shelves of the library!

Watts: (recit) On the shelves? What can they mean?

other objects - not books, what are these?

All white, all cold, all dry... They feel

familiar (shouts) Steadman! Human bones! Human bones littering this place, thousand upon thousand... a valley of bones... This, then, is the catalogue of progress. It is no library, but the graveyard of the human race...

Suddenly the stage is dark and the plinths eerily lit; like memories flashing into his mind. In the dim light we see Morlock entering and sliming around him. He gets up on a table or ladder, horrified at the squirming mass of bodies below him. They clutch at his ankles. ...

Plinths: In this world, what have you found

Only mankind’s sordid history -

Watts: Here my hopes have all been drowned

Lost in deepest mystery?

Doctor: In this world / In this time

What does it mean, success?

Acct: In this world / In this time

Nothing matters less...

Bot:: In your world, Watts, what is left?

Just a wilderness that’s thick with dust

Lawyer And beneath it all, a fear you’ll fall

Plinths Ashes to ashes, dust to dust?

Watts: This cannot be the way

This horror --- this decay!

When fear comes, where do I turn?

Suddenly, a crack of light, and we see, suspended above Watts in a hanging cage the figure of Weena. Perhaps Steadman is also raised as he replies, loudly...

Stead: (spoken) Turn to me, Watts, turn to me / never forget what you did to me

Turn to me, Watts, turn to me / never forget my awful misery

Watts: Steadman!

Stead: (recit or spoken) Here, you are trapped in the library,

This is the same great library

Where I fell from the devil’s machine.

What did you do to me, Watts?

One hundred years from home you drove me to my death.

Watts: Your death?

Stead: Not a bodily death, but the death of my name

How did I trust you? Why did I go with you?

Watts: Steadman you came along with me; you insisted. Why?

Stead: I could not bear to be left out of the journey...

But what I found, a hundred years from home... by the end of the

twentieth century...

Watts: What did you find? Steadman! What did you find?

Stead: In your future, what do I find

Only mankind’s calamity

Surely somewhere is my name?

But no Steadman now remains

Plinths: In this world / In this time

What does it mean, success?

In this world / In this time

Nothing matters less...

He signals to the Morlock, who emerge from all around. Some scale ladders. Some guard Weena, who is held in the cage. All of the following underscored

Watts: Stay back! Don’t think to touch her!

Stead: Do you imagine they can understand you? Language means nothing to them -

They have no sense of what you understand by culture: only one thing interests them...

Watts: You know then..?

Stead: Oh, yes I know... I know what fills these shelves... generations of Eloi, dying in return for

the Morlocks’ undying service... a neat balance, don’t you think?

Watts: A balance? What can you mean?

Stead: It’s simple - (beaten out) The Eloi survive by feeding themselves to the Morlock.

It’s this that drives society - the smell of freshly-shed blood!

music stops

Watts: And this is your new Arcadia?

Stead: It is progress!

Watts: Cannibalism? Progress?

Stead: The morlock have looked after me just as they look after the Eloi. But everything must in time be balanced, Watts.... They want payment.... They require a fee...

Watts: And that fee is?

Stead: Your blood...

Steadman: Right from the start of time Morlock: Ha-ha-ha na-ha-ha etc...

People have wondered this:

How to achieve what is the greatest bliss?

This is the truth I’ve found

This is the prize I’ve gained

This is the moment I’ve waited for -

This is my fame!

Watts: Steadman, You think you’ve won? You have forgotten one thing. (He throws the book down) That book... that is the key. In there is our story, the story of me and you - but for you

to have found that book in 1997, I must have written it before that date! That book is my return ticket. I have nothing to fear from you, Steadman, or from your Morlock!

 

He starts to climb towards the suspended Weena; the morlock slavering at the chops... Steadman signals the morlocks, who are dancing wildly: Watts stretching between heaven and hell.

18/ Dance of the morlock/wreckers

Morlock: Ha-ha-na-ha-ha-na ha-ha-na

Ha-ha-ha ha-ha-ha ha-ha-ha hah!

Morlock: Break all the buildings, burn all the books

This is your future -the way that it looks

 

Stead: All of your plans are faded and hopeless, Morlock: Ha-ha-na-ha-ha-na ha-ha-na

Watts, just as you ended mine

This is the end of all of your progress ha-ha-na ha ha-ha-ha hah! This is the end of Time!

Watts: I should never have believed

In your story; you’ve deceived

Everything for which I strived

Into the future of our lives..

Watts: (suddenly, an idea!) The morlock cannot bear the light!

He produces a piece of camphor The morlock stop, momentarily interested in the object.

Watts: Now watch, as I create - a universe!

He strikes a match; books combust - flames leap up; S+Morlocks fall back and dance hideously as flames engulf them. Watts dives into the smoke and pulls out Weena.

Watts: Come with me Weena! Weena - I can set you free for ever.

He climbs into the cage with her, whirling round, but Steadman and the morlock are pulling at her from below...

19/ Going home!

W: Going home,

Home to my time

Home to the people

Home to the people I have loved!

Going home,

Back to my wife

Back to Louisa

Back to the future of my life!

S: Is this what you call your fame?

How you choose to make your name?

Did you think you’d survive

Into the future of your life?

W: Going home, S: Can’t you see

Home to my time You’re never free?

Home to the people You’ll never make it -

Home to the people I have loved! Back to the future of your life

W: Weena, come Plinths: Which do you choose?

Come with me now, Which do you choose?

Far from this vision, Can it be only

A vision of eternal strife Just a matter of time?

Out of this hell, Out of this hell!

But the machine shudders, and Weena falls suddenly and unexpectedly from the cage into darkness. Aloft, Watts spins away. The sound of wind.

Scene 5: The Homecoming: New Year’s Eve 1897. Louisa’s drawing-room

Offstage, wreckers reprise "Smash it all up". A blazing argument is taking place…

Mrs Jay: Excuse me, sir, it’s Mr Peters, he says will you come immediately - there’s been trouble at

the station.

Doctor: Of course.

Acct: I’ll come too. Filby, stay here and look to the lady...

They go. Filby moves suddenly and surely towards Louisa..

Filby: Mrs Watts, please be still - we have some .... unconcluded business, and I have something of yours which I mean to return, my dear Louisa...

He dangles the watch in front of her, playing with her. Louisa tries to speak . F is not the arch-villain, more the smooth operator. This must be urgently hissed to keep the tension while the Doctor is downstairs.

Remember, Louisa, the inscription?

Louisa: (terrified) "In my end is my beginning".

Filby: That’s right: "In my end... " Now, look at the hands. See - how they turn in on themselves? It is one minute to midnight now, and in one minute more that hand will vanish, vanish completely: two hands in one, Louisa.

Louisa: (tearful) But - it will reappear once more....

Filby: as the earth sweeps towards morning. But imagine, Louisa... imagine that time did not go on... that time were to stop - now - now that we are alone, and that all we have known might

no longer be. No more nightmares, no more dreams... just you and me ... together for ever....(He is holding the watch close to her face.)

20/ Minute by minute (Tune:12/ Pattern on pattern)

Filby: The day is done now

The time is run now;

There’s no more time

To plan or to prepare it

The streets are chill now

The houses still now

The time has come

For hope or for despair

Louisa: Minute by minute

Hour on hour

I have been dreading

Such a dread of darkness

Both: This is the moment I’ve dreamt of / dreaded for so long

This is the moment intended for so long

Filby: Outside December

But in the embers

I see my desire

A flame that never dies

Both: Minute by minute

Hour on hour

I have been dreaming / dreading

Such a dream of longing / a dread of darkness

Re-enter the others. Ashamed, Filby quickly separates from Louisa

Acct: The police are guarding the station workshop. They have said that when there is news we will be informed. Don’t burden yourself, dear lady.(she sobs)

Bot: Mrs Watts, don’t despair - imagine that your husband and Steadman were travelling not in time but in space... Imagine for a moment that their train has been delayed ... You might not

have heard from them within a day. And yet... within the hour, a knock at the door and ...

A knock at the door. They all stop what they are doing. The door opens and in stumbles Gregory Watts, He is unrecognizable. Much, much older... his hair is long and straggly... he wears a long coat. He stumbles past them, without noting them, and stops facing d/s. After a silence, and with some prompting from the others, Louisa approaches him, gently lays her hands on his shoulders. Watts collapses to his knees. A musical moment.

Filby: Stay back!

Doctor: Filthy - augh - the smell! Where has he come from?

Lawyer: His face! Look, look at his eyes!

Filby: And his coat. What man, have you been assaulted?

It’s the wreckers again, from the station. Breaking the tracks, beating an old man....

Acct: Fetch him drink, and food, Mrs Jay; doctor, please, your brandy...

Doctor: I’ll attend him - fetch the police, and bring Peters - ask him if he saw any trouble at the station tonight...

Louisa: Please! (as she raises him to his feet). Come here... sit, sir....

Watts nods his assent

Louisa: Tell me, do you have a name?

Watts: Chr-chr-chhchchhchhrrrrrr

Louisa: Quickly, more water...

Watts: (painfully, old man’s voice) My name is .... Gregory .... Watts (he collapses)

Louisa gasps and jumps up, then collects herself and helps the old man to his feet

The others similarly half-shocked, some standing unable to help..

Filby: That is... not possible....! Watts is twenty years younger than this man!

Watts turns slowly and lets his eyes rest on Filby

Besides, we know where Watts really is...

Lawyer: What do you mean?

Filby: This watch - he gave to his wife as a token of his fidelity! Alas, gentlemen, a less faithful man I cannot conceive of. Watts let us all down.

Bot: Now tell us your true name, sir, and be done with it

Watts: Watts - Gregory Watts… and this is my home… (loud general reaction)

Filby: Wait... If, as you say, you are Gregory Watts of this address, then tell us the name of

your wife.

Watts: There is no need for that, Filby - but (beat) Louisa (all gasp) - come to me....

Reaction. She unsteadily makes her way forward

21 / He knows my name

L: He knows my name, my name is spoken

Some kind of magic, a spell is broken -

All: How could he know what to respond

Is it a ghost come from beyond?

L: In that one second the candle-flame guttered

All: What was the name, the name that he uttered?

L: Louisa! Louisa! All: But how can he tell?

L: Is it a spirit of heaven F: or hell?

All: That is no good, he could have guessed it

Lawy: Ask him again, one further test is

needed to tell if he knows the truth

Needed to find out the final proof.

F: I have a test - nothing’s more certain

Something a stranger never would know

Away with this mask, tear down the curtain

Here in my pocket I’ve something to show

This will reveal your proper identity

This will establish the name that you hide

This is your sentence or else your indemnity

What are the words on the other side?

W Give me the watch F: Not till you answer

The riddle that sets our minds all spinning

What are the words? All: Tell us the answer?

W: "In my end is my beginning!"

General commotion. We all know that that is what is inscribed on the back of the watch.... So does Filby, who looks sickened...Now music "Always" as they embrace.

Filby slams out. Watts approaches Louisa and holds her hand: The tableau is one of general happiness.

Lawyer: (with disbelief) Then, you have been travelling in time?

Watts: Precisely - to the future of mankind.

Acct: But Watts - you must have brought something back. Can you prove it?

Watts: Proof! Always proof! You cannot bear to live without it! Well, I must

disappoint you... I have nothing -

Doctor: Ah-hah! Watts: except - this!

And he produces, from his inside pocket, a flower, clearly not like a flower they have seen. All underscored.

As they sniff the scent it sends them into spinning circles all over the space.

Louisa: Why, Gregory, what is it?

Watts: It is a ... gift..

Louisa: A gift, my dear?

Watts: Pass it around. Have you seen anything like it before?

All: Not that I .... I haven’t seen.... So radiant, so exotic...

Acct It is like.... a camellia

Bot: But it is not a camellia!

Louisa: That scent!

Bot: So strange, so sweet!

Lawy: It fills the room!

Doctor: Though I say it myself ... I must confess...

Bot: It is indeed most unusual.

Watts: Would you have me send it for analysis? Your men at Kew will tell you

that nothing like it has been seen in your lifetime - or in mine!
Doctor: Intoxicating!

They stop, and listen - the sound of Eloi voices swims around their heads

Louisa: Gregory - at last, you’re home!
Watts: My love! (they embrace)

Scene 6: The street

22/ Chorus: Have you heard?

Have you heard?

Shout from the rooftops

This is the proof Watts

has travelled in time!

Have you heard?

Put back your deadline

Publish the headline

He’s travelled in time!

This is the moment for which we’ve all waited

This is the moment we’re recreated!

Spot on wreckers who tower over cringing Filby

Wreck2: You promised us, Mr Filby. We had a - business arrangement -

Wreck2: You hired us, Mr Filby, to do your dirty work.

Wreck3: We made that disturbance so you could get your woman, Mr Filby...

Filby: I’ll fetch the police...

Wreck2: No need to, Mr Filby. We’re like shadows, you see - one move, and we’re away,

vanished... you won’t see us again. We can do without your threats

Wreck1: We can do without your money...

Wreck3: Mr Filby - we can do without you....

And they beat him - the wreckers flee, one of them dropping his bowler hat in the scuffle

Chorus: Have you heard!

Now no-one can top us

No century stop us

From trav’ling in time!

Have you heard?

It’s simple as winking

The speed of your thinking

To travel in time!
This is the future - Watt’s invention -

This is the future of our comprehension!

Put back the deadline!

Publish the headline!

We will be able to travel in time

Don’t look back - don’t look behind -

We’re travelling - in TIME!

Dance. Tableau. Watts approaches the hat and slowly, slowly, stoops to pick it up

23/ Think again (Acct, Lawyer, Bot, Doct)

Have you ever wondered what will be?

Have you ever thought or felt the strangest fears

What may happen in a century?

What may happen in a thousand, thousand years?

Have you ever thought: can things go on?

Have you thought?

Have you thought?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like

To travel to the farthest that a man can see

What events and what disasters strike

What phenomena await humanity?

Have you ever thought if Time will end?

Have you thought?

At all?

Doctor: These are the imponderables, Watts!

As Watts sings the following verses, the lights start to dim, and the star effect is projected (mirror-ball)

Watts solo: I have seen the future of our race

I have seen the flip-side of our fate

It may happen now, may happen late,

We’re moving to a future of a thousand, thousand tears...

Do you think this century is strange?

Think again!
Think again!

Watts: I have seen an Earthly Paradise

Lighted by a supernatural sun

Yet on that Earth, whenever daylight dies

It rolls into a darkness where the course of time is run.

All: Do you think this century is strange?

Think again!

Think again!

During this song, the characters have drifted off or turned their backs, leaving Watts solo; as he reaches the final lines, we hear a distant reprise of the start of no1 (Progress); shadowy commuters rustle like leaves across our field of vision. Suddenly we note that Watts has vanished - only a pool of light remains. The sound of rustling leaves. Louisa has turned and is left on her own making her way u/s.

Louisa: (turning sharply) Gregory?

But he is gone. The light snaps off. Wind.

 

 

1996 Book and lyrics by Alex Went , music by John Moore, edited for the stage by Peter Fanning.

Based on the story by H.G. Wells. This libretto may not be copied or hired out under any circumstances.

Don Brockway, Juny 5, 2003 (updated October 12, 2004)

Back to The Time Machine Home Page