When I was young, my family and I would have family movie nights semi-frequently. One night, my dad decided we should watch Back to the Future. My siblings and I excitedly made popcorn from a makeshift machine, soaked it in butter and fought over who got to sit where on the couch. Once we settled down and watched the movie, it quickly became one of my favourite films.
Flash forward ten years, to the present day. I found myself walking through tube stations while being bombarded with advertisements for the West End theatre production of Back to the Future. I instantly knew I needed to see it. I dragged my new friends to come with me.
When my friends and I got to the theatre, I made us wait in line for very overpriced popcorn, mainly for nostalgia. We quickly located our seats and had a fantastic view of the stage. The staff was friendly and helpful. The theatre was lovely. There were a bunch of Back to the Future decorations and puns.
The show’s basic premise is as follows: Marty McFly, played by Ben Joyce, finds himself in a quirky friendship with Doc Brown, played by Roger Bart. Doc invented the time machine in his automobile. He was showing it off to Marty, when Doc quickly needed to be transported to the hospital. Marty revved up the engine to 88 miles per hour, the exact speed which triggered the time machine mechanism. Before he knew it, Marty found himself back in 1955 and spent the show trying his hardest not to cause too much trouble and find his way back to 1985.
The casting of Doc Brown was undoubtedly one of the show’s highlights. Roger Bart gave an outstanding performance. He had the entire audience laughing hysterically. You could feel the emotion and passion with every word he acted out. Ben Joyce and Robert Bart had amazing on-stage chemistry. The banter between their characters was hilarious.
Also, the special effects were among the best I have ever seen. When Marty was transported back in time, the car appeared to float above the crowd and flip in circles. It looked like magic. The entire theatre was flashing lights, which made the audience feel they were travelling through time.
My only complaint would be that the theatre was excessively loud. Due to this, the audience’s ability to fully understand the pronunciation of some songs was hindered. Nonetheless, this did not diminish our capacity to enjoy the outstanding vocals or to understand the plot. Yet, some of the best lines in the programme come from song lyrics, and I wish I could have understood them better at the moment.
With all that said, the foundation of good art, in my opinion, appeals to people of all ages. Someone as young as five years old can enjoy it just as much as someone as old as fifty or ninety years old. This production was timeless and appropriate for all audiences.
My friends were ultimately grateful I dragged them out, as they thoroughly enjoyed it as well. One of my friends, Marissa, is a self-proclaimed “theatre geek”. She goes to a different show on the West End every weekend and says this was her favourite show she has seen in London so far.
By: Jenna Goldberg
Photograph: Sean Ebsworth Barnes