So this is a 10 minute play with two main characters and one secondary one. Feel free to use this for anything non-profit, but please credit me :)
The Implications of Murdering Hitler
Present day, evening
The basement laboratory of Dr. Higgins. A large cylindrical 'time machine' sits stage left. It is large enough for a person to walk in, and the door should be positioned so that it swings upstage, not blocking the actor. An unmarked back exit is also present, leading to backstage, allowing the actor to leave the 'time machine' without the audience seeing him. There is a comically large plug coming out the side of the time machine. There is an equally large receptacle next to the plug, with the end trailing offstage. At rise it is unplugged. Behind the time machine, out of the audience's view, is a bucket into which a blender full of liquid can be poured. Next to the time machine is a toolbox containing a wrench and a screwdriver A tall workbench with a stool sit stage right. It is covered in scientific apparatus to establish that the actors are scientists. A microscope, a laptop, and possibly some machines in various stages of completion, as well as a blender full of a thick white liquid. It is covered in papers. Also stage right is a coat hook with two lab coats and two sets of safety goggles hanging on it. A second workbench sits stage left, between the time machine and the stage right workbench. it is covered in papers. There is a wall upstage to establish the back of the room. A sign hangs on this wall which proclaims 'THE LABORATORY OF DR. HIGGINS, PHD'. It should be readable from the audience. A light switch is present on this wall next to the coat hook, with a door next to the light switch for entry to the stage. Hanging center stage on this wall are two white boards, covered in formulas. The spaces on the walls not taken up by the whiteboards are covered in papers. Offstage Left is a bottle of champagne and two glasses. These should be easily accessible from the back exit of the time machine.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
DR. ANTHONY HIGGINS: in his early 60's. White hair, dresses 'professionally' (nice slacks and a plaid button up shirt). He wears a lab coat and safety goggles while in the lab. He is a physicist who considers himself an expert in the field of time travel, and is considered a quack by everyone else. Spurned by the scientific community, he's on a mission to prove them wrong. He was JENKINS teacher during JENKINS undergraduate degree, but isn't allowed to teach anywhere anymore. He is very much a mad scientist.
CHRISTOPHER JENKINS: Early 30's. Dresses professionally (nice slacks, button up shirt, and a tie). Wears a lab coat in the lab. Working on his graduate degree . Idolizes and looks up to DR. HIGGINS, however is beginning to have his doubts. Highly intelligent, he's sacrificed a lot on behalf of his beliefs in DR. HIGGIN'S theories. He occasionally calls DR. HIGGINS 'Professor', a throwback to his undergraduate years when DR. HIGGINS was his teacher.
THE LAW KEEPER: A futuristic police officer. His uniform is black or dark blue. He wears a helmet with a dark visor to cover his eyes. He has a pair of handcuffs dangling from his belt, and a ray gun in his gun holster. He's there to get the job done.
At Rise. The stage is dark, except for a spotlight on the time machine, which DR. HIGGINS is working on, muttering to himself. He is sitting on the ground.
JENKINS: (offstage) Professor? Are you down there?
DR. HIGGINS doesn't hear JENKINS, continues to work on his machine. Sound is made offstage to imitate walking down stairs. JENKINS enters stage right, slowly puts on his lab coat, and flips the light switch. Cue lights up on whole stage.
JENKINS: (sounding upset, walking towards centre stage. Stops at the edge of the stage left work bench, unsure ) Professor, we need to talk. (Pause. No response from DR. HIGGINS) Professor? (Pause. Shouts) Professor!
DR. HIGGINS: (startled, looks around, sees JENKINS) Ah, Jenkins! I'm glad you're here, boy. Help me up, would you? (sticks hand out for JENKINS to grab)
JENKINS: (grabs DR. HIGGINS hand , and delivers line while pulling him up) Professor, there's something—
DR. HIGGINS: (walking away from JENKINS) Now now! There will be time for chit chat later! We've got to get to work! Now where did I put my calculations? (looks around at the papers scattered everywhere helplessly, begins searching.)
JENKINS: Well Professor, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. As you know, I'm working on my graduate degree, and…well…I need to start working on my own research. I won't have the free time I have now to help you as your assistant. I—
DR. HIGGINS: Aha! Found it!
JENKINS: Professor, were you listening to me?
DR. HIGGINS: (ignoring JENKINS, excited) I came up with this sometime late last night…in a dream! It solves all of our problems! Just look at it! (pushes paper into JENKINS face. JENKINS swats it away angrily. The paper stays in DR. HIGGINS hand.)
JENKINS: I'm leaving! (begins making his way to the door)
DR. HIGGINS: Leaving? Where are you going? There's work to be done!
JENKINS: (stops, turns around to face DR. HIGGINS) I tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen! I have to focus on my doctoral dissertation!
DR. HIGGINS: Nonsense, boy, you don't need a silly doctorate degree! Look at all the good it's done me!
JENKINS: Dr. Higgins, I've greatly admired your work and looked up to you for some time. I want to be like you someday. And to do that, I need a doctorate! (spins on his heels, and continues walking away)
DR. HIGGINS: W-wait! Christopher! Don't leave yet! I...We're so close! Just give me one more day, I beg of you. One tiny little rotation of the Earth, and you'll be free to leave, forever.
JENKINS hesitates at the door, uncertain. He wants to leave DR. HIGGINS, but this is actually the answer he's been waiting for.
DR. HIGGINS: I'll give you the functional lightsaber.
JENKINS: I don't know...(slyly, turning to face DR. HIGGINS) Would I be able to keep the miniature particle accelerator too?
DR. HIGGINS: That useless thing? I can't get it to produce anything other than Higgs particles, but if it will keep you here, yes!
JENKINS: And the-
DR. HIGGINS: For the love of Newton, whatever it is, yes! Now will you stay?
JENKINS: My name on the paper before yours.
DR. HIGGINS: After!
JENKINS: The same size!
DR. HIGGINS: Arg! Fine. Deal! (they shake hands). Now look at this!
DR. HIGGINS shows JENKINS the paper again. JENKINS takes the paper and studies it for several seconds.
JENKINS:(dumbfounded) I...Doctor, this is what we've been looking for! You've solved it!
DR. HIGGINS: As I was saying earlier, it came to me in a dream (walks centre stage, facing towards audience, away from JENKINS. He is far away, remembering his dream. His recounting steadily builds, and gets more excited, until the very end, where it falls flat). I was walking down a street in the dark...all the streetlights were off, and I couldn't figure out why. I was just about to give up on the whole sordid affair when suddenly, they all turned on in a bright blaze of glory! So bright was the light that I was thrown back! And a voice boomed "HIGGINS", but it was so bright that I couldn't see who was speaking. It called my name again, "HIGGINS! WATCH CLOSELY, HIGGINS!" And suddenly there was a formula, my formula! But it was different, changed. It was right! It was burned into my frontal cortex, to be forever remembered! And then I realized I was in my underwear, and woke up. It's amazing, Jenkins, the power of dreams.
JENKINS: Truly inspiring, Professor. But will it actually work?
DR. HIGGINS: Have some faith, boy! One does not question the Gods of Physics!
JENKINS: Professor, you're an atheist.
DR. HIGGINS: (ignoring JENKINS, walks towards the time machine) I spent the rest of the night writing down the formula, again and again and again, making sure I wouldn't forget it. And now, all that remains is to put the finishing touches on Felicity. (lays hand on the time machine)
JENKINS: ...Uh... Felicity?
DR. HIGGINS: I named her.
DR. HIGGINS: The time machine! I named her Felicity!
JENKINS: Why, exactly?
DR. HIGGINS: It came to me in another dream! (Prepares to launch into another dream monologue) This time, I was-
JENKINS: (throws up hands) T-that's fine, Professor! I don't need to know why!
DR. HIGGINS: What type of scientific attitude is that?
JENKINS: (trying to distract DR. HIGGINS) Your formula may work, but the time machine...er...Felicity is far from operational. We don't have enough Wonderflonium to power her.
DR. HIGGINS: Our Wonderflonium predicament did cross my mind. But I believe I have a solution to that too! I discovered a rough but usable deposit in the place you'd least expect.
JENKINS: Tell me, Professor!
DR. HIGGINS: Wonderbread!
JENKINS: Huh. I always did wonder what went into Wonderbread.
DR. HIGGINS: As did I. I spent much of this morning buying up the grocery store's stock of Wonderbread, and much of the afternoon isolating the Wonderflonium. (grabs blender) This should be enough for our purposes! Take it, and try not to spill any! (shoves the blender at JENKINS, begins walking towards the time machine)
JENKINS: (following DR. HIGGINS) Professor, what exactly are 'our purposes'?
DR. HIGGINS: Time travel, my boy, what else? Now, pour the Wonderflonium into the tank!
JENKINS: But Professor, I-
DR. HIGGINS: No buts! Time's a wasting! Well, not really. Hah!
JENKINS pours the blender full of Wonderflonium into the tank behind the time machine as DR. HIGGINS positions himself at the plug.
DR. HIGGINS: Now, give my creation life!
The lights begin to flick on and off as DR. HIGGINS connects the time machine plug to its receptacle. He is holding the two pieces above his head and laughing maniacally. JENKINS steps back, away from the machine, with an arm thrown up over his eyes, a look of horror on his face. The lights go back to normal, and DR. HIGGINS stops laughing.
JENKINS: What just happened?!
DR. HIGGINS: (walks towards JENKINS) The birth of something beautiful! (Grabs JENKINS by the arms and shakes him vigorously) I did it Jenkins, I did it! After all these years, I finally did it! (releases JENKINS, walks past him, stops around centre stage) They'll have no choice but to believe me now! So you can take that and stick it in your voice box, Hawkings!
JENKINS: It's an amazing scientific advance, Doctor. The scientific community will have to accept your theories now!
DR. HIGGINS: (rubbing hands together) Oh, and I'm going to rub their faces in it. But first, a test run, and then a celebration!
DR. HIGGINS begins walking towards the time machine. JENKINS puts an arm out to stop him.
JENKINS: But Professor, there's so many things we still need to do first, a test run would be-
DR. HIGGINS brushes JENKINS off, walks into the time machine and closes the door. JENKINS freezes, and the lights go crazy, to simulate the time travel. Coloured lights, moving everywhere, possibly a strobe light as well. This goes on for a couple seconds, and then stops, with DR. HIGGINS emerging from the time machine with a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses.
DR. HIGGINS: The places I've seen! The people I've met! Oh, Jenkins, it was wonderful! And look what I brought back!
JENKINS: (takes champagne bottle from DR. HIGGINS) Professor, this is an 1893 Veuve Clicquot! Where did you get this?
DR. HIGGINS: From 1893, of course! (takes champagne bottle back) Now let's open it up and have a toast, eh?
DR. HIGGINS opens the bottle, and pours himself and JENKINS a glass.
DR. HIGGINS: To futures no longer closed to us!
JENKINS: And to discoveries that would have blown Einstein's mind!
DR. HIGGINS: To all those idiots at Harvard who called me a liar! And, of course, to the one person who's been there for me when the world turned away...
JENKINS: (Pleased, slightly embarassed) Oh professor, I-
DR. HIGGINS: Felicity!
JENKINS: (Jealous) Oh.
They both drink.
JENKINS: So what's next, Professor, now that we know Felicity works?
DR. HIGGINS: I'm glad you asked boy. I too have given this question a considerable amount of thought.
JENKINS: I was thinking-
DR. HIGGINS: Enough from you! We have a great gift here, it would be a shame to squander it on something meaningless. (pauses to think, putting down his champagne glass.)
JENKINS: Well, what about-
DR. HIGGINS: Never mind, I have it! I shall go back in time and change the spelling of the word 'Wednesday' to something much more manageable.
JENKINS looks at DR. HIGGINS, dumbfounded.
DR. HIGGINS: What? Wednesday is a difficult word, it has letters in it that don't make sense.
JENKINS: But Professor, that the exact type of meaningless thing you were just talking about. Who cares how 'Wednesday' is spelled? (also puts down his champagne glass)
DR. HIGGINS: Perhaps you do have a point.
JENKINS: There are so many other good things we could be doing with a time machine! We could explore the future, and learn from its mysterious people, or-
DR. HIGGINS: I've got it! I shall go back in time, and tell Newton his own theory of gravity before the apple hits! When it does fall down, he'll remember what I told him, and the theory will be accredited to me!
JENKINS: ...I don't mean to be rude, Doctor, but that's worse than your first idea. Giving Newton his theory won't change anything. Which reminds me, I did want to discuss with you the implications of-
DR. HIGGINS: Fine! I shall go back in time, and murder Adolph Hitler before he has a chance to grow up and cause World War 2! I'll return a triumphant hero! (turns to go to the time machine)
JENKINS: Not so fast, Professor. We don't know how time travel works.
DR. HIGGINS: Of course we do, we just did it.
JENKINS: No, what I meant was, we don't know how our actions in the past will affect our present.
DR. HIGGINS: What on Earth are you talking about, boy?
JENKINS: Look. (grabs two sheets of paper, quickly folds one into a square and one into a triangle.) There are three dominating theories on how time travel into the past works. Let's say that this square is you, and this triangle is your grandfather. (holds up both in turn. as JENKINS is explaining everything, he's miming with the square and triangle).
Theory number 1: you go back in time, and kill your grandfather while he's still a boy. Your great grandparents adopt another little boy, and give him your grandfather's name. He then goes on to become your grandfather. In this theory, the past is set in stone, and there's nothing you can do to change it.
Theory number 2: you go back in time and kill your grandfather. Because you killed your grandfather, you were never born. Because you were never born, you never went back in time to kill your grandfather. This is the paradox theory, or time loop theory, because you create both a paradox and a time loop.
The third theory is a bit different. You go back in time and kill your grandfather. This creates alternate reality. In one reality, your grandfather is still alive, which produced you. In another reality, you don't exist. The important thing is that once you've created that alternate reality, you're stuck in it. You can't return to your own reality. So even if you returned to the present, it would be completely different from the one you left. Do you understand, Professor?
DR. HIGGINS: (condescending) Alright, I'll go along with your ridiculous theories. So which one is it?
JENKINS: (frustrated) That's what I've been trying to tell you! Nobody knows! We could end up tearing apart the space-time continuum if we're not careful!
DR. HIGGINS: So what do you suggest we do, then?
JENKINS: Run some tests. Wait until we know for sure. What if we're in an alternate reality right now?
DR. HIGGINS: And may I ask how we ended up there?
JENKINS: Your champagne bottle! What if, because you took it-
DR. HIGGINS: It was a gift!
JENKINS: (panicking) It doesn't matter! If you weren't supposed to have it in the present, you could have created an alternate universe! What if I'm not me?! What if-
DR. HIGGINS slaps JENKINS across the face.
DR. HIGGINS: Get a hold of yourself, man!
JENKINS: (holding a hand to his face where DR. HIGGINS hit him) T-thank you, Doctor, I don't know what came over me. Some sort of existential crisis.
DR. HIGGINS: The important thing to ask yourself is; "if I was in an alternate universe, would I be asking if I was in an alternate universe"?
JENKINS: Well, actually Professor-
DR. HIGGINS: Exactly! Since you're asking, we must be in the original universe. Problem solved.
JENKINS: Actually, I don't think that solves-
DR. HIGGINS: Now back to the matter at hand. I'll use Felicity to go back in time to Hitler's childhood. I'll kill the boy, and return a triumphant hero. I'll probably even get a Nobel Peace Prize.
JENKINS: Professor, I really think you shouldn't go through with this.
DR. HIGGINS: Oh really? You think that I should stand back and allow the senseless slaughter of 6 million people?
JENKINS: Well, no, but-
DR. HIGGINS: Or do you think it's right that I should allow a power crazy dictator to plunge the world into a brutal war?
JENKINS: It's not right, however-
DR. HIGGINS: And what about the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which happened because of the War. Should I let that happen.
JENKINS: I... (defeated) no, you shouldn't.
DR. HIGGINS: Then it's settled. I'll go back in time, prevent the war, and come back as a hero! Wish me well upon my journey, Jenkins! Tonight I make history!
DR. HIGGINS climbs into the time machine.
DR. HIGGINS: The world will thank me for this!
The lights begin going crazy again. This time, everything freezes for a couple seconds, and then returns to normal. JENKINS puts on a pair of glasses , and tidies up the papers on both of the desks. The sign proclaiming 'THE LABORATORY OF DR. HIGGINS, PHD' is replaced with a sign proclaiming 'THE LABORATORY OF DR. JENKINS, PHD'. There is a knock at the door, and when JENKINS answers, it's THE LAW KEEPER. They talk quietly, and JENKINS motions towards the time machine. THE LAW KEEPER walks over and positions himself with his ray gun in front of the door to the time machine, and motions for JENKINS to keep back. The lights return to normal, and DR. HIGGINS steps out of the time machine.
DR. HIGGINS: Jenkins, I did it! I...(notices THE LAW KEEPER) What the devil is going on in here?!
JENKINS: There he is! Law Keeper, arrest this man!
LAW KEEPER: (pulls out handcuffs, and begins handcuffing DR. HIGGINS) Anthony Higgins, by the constitution of the United Federation of North America, I am placing you under arrest for the crime of Chronology Displaced Murder.
DR. HIGGINS: What on earth are you talking about?! I'm a hero! I (notices the sign proclaiming this to be DR. JENKINS lab.) very funny Jenkins. Now tell this man to untie me.
JENKINS: Sir, I have never met you before today, and I'm quite glad of it. Filth like you belongs in prison!
DR. HIGGINS: But...but don't you know what I've done?
JENKINS: Yes. You murdered an innocent little boy in cold blood. You're the very first time travel murderer that this world has ever seen.
DR. HIGGINS: No! I stopped World War 2!
JENKINS: What on Earth are you talking about? World War 2 was fought between The Former Russia and The Former United States.
DR. HIGGINS: (realization is dawning on him) Jenkins, you were right! This is an alternate universe! In my universe, Hitler started World War 2! I was trying to do everyone a favour!
JENKINS: Law Keeper, take this man away!
LAW KEEPER: Yes Doctor. Thank you for your assistance is capturing this dangerous criminal.
JENKINS: I only wish I could have done more.
THE LAW KEEPER and DR. HIGGINS leave. JENKINS is left alone on stage. He looks away from the door where THE LAW KEEPER and DR. HIGGINS just departed from, and looks out into the audience, musing.
JENKINS: That poor little boy. I mean, really, what kind of monster could kill a child?! Poor little Adolph. I'm sure he had a bright future ahead of him. Who knows what he would have accomplished? (enlightment moment) That's it! I'll go back in time and stop Higgins from murdering Hitler! I'll come back a hero! (walks over to the time machine, and climbs in, but doesn't close the door yet) The world will thank me for this! (closes the door)
fade to black.