MURRAY — Teenage everyman Marvin McFlea had a crush on Miley Cyrus. His course of action was obvious: Steal a time machine, go back in time, and make your dad a superstar musician. Then surely you will be dating her in the future! There must be easier ways to get a Hollywood floozy to fall for you with a car that traverses time and space. But all this makes perfect sense in the world of Desert Star’s Back from the Future.
Jeff Jensen stars as Marvin McFlea, imbibing the role with boyish charisma. Playing his mom Mandy is…Mandi Jensen in a warm and confident performance. Corey Brandenburger is his dad George, a total square oblivious to Mandy’s affection. And what a dork is he!
But Back from the Future is dorked-up twice. There’s also Lewis, a soda jerker embodied by Ed Farnsworth (who also wrote the play). Lewis is three parts Rick Moranis and one part Napoleon Dynamite. Farnsworth is so good he’s creepy, so creepy he’s gewd. And what’s Back to the—I mean—FROM! the Future without a crackpot doc? But now she’s a lady! Way to progress, Desert Star! Holly Fowers gave a good performance, but I was looking forward to some Christopher Lloyd.
The most laugh lines were thrown down by a character not based on movie: Sloane Buhler played by Corinne Adair. She’s a dumb high heel wearin’ hooch, and Adair delivered some good comic jabs. Too bad the chuckles don’t continue through the whole play. Many of the jokes seem easy and obvious. Some improv could kick things up a few notches. The actors seem up to it.
Storywise there is much that doesn’t make sense, and not in a ha-ha-what-a-zany-spoof way. Marvin purposely foils the budding courtship of his mom and dad. Tetherball coach Strictman (Ben E. Millet) thinks he’ll be football coach if Lavell Edwards gets the boot. Not to mention the whole thing about Miley Cyrus. These are the major plotlines and none of them hold water. Much could be forgiven if we were laughing too much to notice or care.
There are missed opportunities all around. Like when Marvin starts to become the offspring of Lewis and Mandy. Interesting, but dropped as soon as it’s introduced. Even the names like “flux perimeter” could yield comedic gold with more effort. Finally, the show is so short that there’s a ’50s musical revue tacked on that’s completely unrelated. The actors did their darndest, but it was very out of place.
Come on, Desert Star! You have good actors, live musicians, and a cool playhouse. Don’t waste them with subpar scripts.