Time and the Conways



  • A play by J. B. Priestley, published in 1937 with I HaveBeen Here Before as Two Time Plays. They were both performed thatyear in London at the Duchess Theatre. The story centres upon the middle-classConway family. In the first act, set in 1919, the widowed Mrs Conway and hersix children gather to celebrate the 21st birthday of Kay, one of the daughters,who aspires to become a novelist. The atmosphere is one of relief at the endof the World War and great hope for the future. The second act jumps to 1937 to compare these hopes with reality: the characters variously face money problems,disappointed ambitions, and failed marriages, while one of the daughters has died. In the last scene Kay's brother, Alan, explains his theory of time as eternally present, rather than linear, and this helps her to accept their changing world. The third act returns to the party in 1919 and shows us theseeds of the family's future troubles in their complacency and class arrogance.