”It all started when a time travel experiment I was conducting went... a little ka-ka. In the blink of a cosmic clock I went from quantum physicist to air force test pilot. Which could have been fun... if I knew how to fly.
Fortunately, I had help. An observer from the project named Al. Unfortunately, Al's a hologram, so all he can lend is moral support. Anyway, here I am. Bouncing around in time, putting things right which once went wrong. A sort of time traveling Lone Ranger, with Al as my Tonto. And I don't even need a mask. Oh boy.” - Dr Sam Beckett, Quantum Leap TV Series.
And that sets the background for an inspired choice for an improv show based on title suggestions put forward by the audience. Sam will leap into the bodies of other people, accompanied by the womanising, cigar smoking Al, whom only he can see and hear. He is guided by a, sometimes malfunctioning, hand held computer called Ziggy, which has information on past events and can calculate the effect of Sam’s actions.
The cult TV series was once described as “little period movies” and the improv show provides new episodes every day constructed around a proposed date. The plot hardly matters but it reproduces in amusing low tech the essential elements of the TV show.
For the reviewed show audience members selected “Bubble Perm Hell” set in 1988. After the hallmark intro with year appropriate photos Sam leaps into “Steve Hair-Dresser” who happens to be a child prodigy stylist to the stars and, according to Al, has an 85% chance of killing himself within a few days. This heralds much silliness featuring coiffuring mishaps, lost loves, punk rockers, groupies and a wood carving debt collector.
It doesn’t work 100% of the time but there are enough of the in-jokes from the show to tie it all together and it’s done with such a flair that you can hardly see the joins.
The focus is more on laughs than the original of course but still manages to shoehorn in nostalgia if not social commentary. The talented cast are able to pepper the unfolding story with a worryingly geeky level of period knowledge of landmark people, brands and events.
It’s giving nothing away to say that it ends with a leap into another situation and a trademark, dismayed “Oh boy !”.
There is around an 80% chance that you are going to love it.
Show Times: 1 to 24 August 2014 (not Mondays 4, 11, 18) at 2.30pm.
Ticket Prices: Free (contributions at end) as part of the La Favorita Freestival.