Let’s cut to the chase. Back to the Future: The Pantomime is not particularly good. But did you expect it to be? Really? Butthead.
This is the second time that Two Shades of Blue have brought this show to Edinburgh. At this point, you might expect a quip about going back in time to fix mistakes, but, if you don’t mind, my appetite for time travel jokes has been somewhat satisfied.
It seems unfair to other shows to commend this production. This writing is as obvious and as formulaic as it gets. References to a classic film interspersed into every pantomime convention there is. Marty and George are played by girls (unless I’m horribly mistaken; if so, apologies to the cast). Lorraine is a bloke, and Einstein is played by a cow. Well, when I say ‘cow’, it’s actually two… yeah, you’ve got it.
So, how is it possible to laud this when other groups and performers invest so much into crafting each line, nod, wink and grimace in their shows? Whilst comics travel the land in the months leading up to August to perfect their routines, Two Shades don’t appear to have done much to this uninspired script since 2008. Even considering the knowingly-bad atmosphere, some of the performers might have shown a little more interest in what’s going on, with some off-timing ruining otherwise passable gags. It’s easy to get the impression that this is a side project for the performers while they are working on other shows.
On the other hand, it seems unfair to lambast Back to the Future: The Pantomime. It does what it says on the tin. It doesn’t promise a considered satire of 1980s consumerism with profound comparisons to the excesses of contemporary society. It’s a bit like hating Piranha 3DD for not being Citizen Kane. It’s not a great show, but sometimes a truckload of manure is just what the Doc ordered. So long as you don’t expect much, want easy laughs and safe audience participation, then this could be the antidote to that worthy performance that you’ve just sat through on chairs that your arse is convinced have been borrowed from a primary school.
It’s not a disastrous hour, though. “The Power of Love” and the “Main Theme” are reworked to help the story move along, and the audience gets to wave their hands in the air, shout out the things you’d expect to shout out, and join in with a version of “Johnny B Goode”. A good working knowledge of the original Back to the Future film is pretty essential to comprehend what the heck is going on. This is also true of life itself.
Considered on its own terms, Back to the Future: The Pantomime is decent, sort of. If your expectations are in line with the show’s aims, then you’ll be clapping, signing, and leaving with a smile and a chewy sweet. Can’t help but thinking that those with half-priced tickets are smiling more than those who paid a tenner.
Date of live review: Monday 27th August 2012