That 80s Time Travel Movie
Brisbane Arts Theatre
February 11 – March 27
The 1980s were simultaneously awesome and awful, as those who lived through the years will know. But, with simultaneous climax of story writing and special effects, they did produce some of the best movies of all time, including the cheesy sci-fi flick “Back to the Future” and its subsequent two sequels.
If you thought that your memory of the whimsical adventure comedy film had faded, its experience is soon brought back in an opening on-screen montage that brings Marty McFly to Brisbane to the sounds of its anthemic ‘Power of Love’. And so Brisbane Arts Theatre’s musical parody “The 80s Time Travel Movie” takes audiences back to the totally rad decade that taste forgot, evident in the authentic, over-the-top costumes and hair of the mediocre McFly family
Son, Marty (Aidan Hodder), a skateboarding, guitar-playing teen, watches his dad George (William Toft) be pushed around by his boss, Biff (Tyler Stevens) while his mum Lorriane (Lara Boyle) drinks away her sorrows, so he turns to eccentric Emmett (Doc) Brown (Alex Lanham), who’s just fashioned a time machine out of a flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean which takes Marty back to 1955, the year that his parents fell in love. After he accidentally sets history upon an alternative path, he must figure out not only how to get back to future, but how to transfer his mother’s affections from himself over to his father, otherwise he and his siblings will never be born. Along the way, there are laughs aplenty in the Australian premiere of this mother-kissing adventure.
Live music enhances the appeal of songs like its pre-intermission melodic title track ‘Back to the Future’, but really sight gags and dialogue provide so much of the humour that songs aren’t even that necessary. Giving even characters like Biff their own number sometimes drags an already quite long show, yet others are more than memorable such as when Marty sings of the ‘Serious Shit’ metaphysical conundrum of having a younger version of his mother attracted to him or she sings explicit share of her sexual desire for him in ‘My Calvin Cline’. The shock value of some of the lyrics not only adds to the humour but cements this as a not-for-children show.
Hodder is energetic in the demanding protagonist role, on stage almost non-stop. As his dweeby dad George, Toft is excellent in gangly geekery and over-the-top mannerisms, giving what is perhaps the best performance I’ve ever seen at the Arts Theatre, especially in the Hill Valley High school dance scene crescendo of his new found confidence asserted to anyone to dares to interrupt his time with future wife Lorraine. Boyle is of excellent voice throughout, right from her 1985 reminiscence of life in 1955 when she met George. Doc Brown is wonderfully played to madcap perfection by Lanham. Although some Marty and Doc scenes lag a little indulgently, his spot-on comic timing adds much glee to the show’s experience, often allowing the pause itself and his character reactions, to become a source of humour beyond the original joke.
Narrative exposition is sometimes deliberately clunky, but this at least adds to the frenetic, farcical feel of the spoof and topical Trump mentions feel jarringly like unnecessary easy-attempts a laughs in an already humour-filled show. Still, the loving lampoon is a totally rad and at-times random pop-culture trip down memory lane. With a dancing DoLorean and even a touch of ‘Chariots of Fire’ its sense of fun is very much like that of last year’s “Jurassic Park The Musical”, leading to the question of when is Part Two?