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Buried: A New Musical by Tom Williams and Cordelia O’Driscoll

Buried - Aenne Pallasca
Buried – Aenne Pallasca

A fellow audience member at Buried: A New Musical immediately wanted to know why “they (the production team) changed it”. Not having seen the show in its previous incarnation, I’m sure what was changed in terms of the storyline – and even if I did, the details may prove to be too much of a spoiler in any event – but there was a palpable sense of frustration that the production just wasn’t as good as it used to be.

Even without knowing anything about the show beforehand, I had a hunch this wasn’t going to a be a story that ends well, with songs like ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ playing out over the speakers pre-show. An early scene captures the awkwardness of first dates, with Rose (Lindsay Manion) trying and not quite managing to find someone compatible until Harry (Sebastian Belli) comes along. They don’t – as this would make this an even shorter show – find common ground immediately, but when they do, plans are set in place to realise a mutual ambition.

The show would, and I appreciate the score is an original one, be better as a play. There can sometimes be quite a gap between musical numbers, something accentuated by the presence of an on-stage five-piece band, who sit stoically waiting for the talking heads to stop and the next tune to begin. There could also have been a greater variety of styles in the musical numbers – this felt like variations of the same tune were being played repeatedly, just with different lyrics each time.

There are some moments of comic relief from two sources. One is Harry’s Christmas cracker style sense of humour, the other are snippets from the world of television (there are ways of inserting the words ‘Love Island’ into a show if its creatives really want to), presented by Rebecca Yau, Alexander Cosgriff, Niamh Finan, and Laurence Hunt, who also play a variety of minor characters between them, including the victim of Rose and Harry’s endeavours.

Harry does have a point, though, when he replies, “Hi, hungry!” to Rose’s “I’m hungry” – in most other languages, one cannot ‘be’ hungry. ‘J’ai faim’, the French phrase, literally translates as ‘I have hunger’, which may be bizarre to speakers of English, but is more technically correct. Anyway, none of the musical numbers are particularly memorable, though they are well-performed. A television series called The Psychopath Next Door could, at the risk of sounding joyless, have been cut out completely with no consequence to the main storyline.

It is, truth be told, an unusual love story, but it starts to lose its distinctiveness after a while as they bicker and disagree, just like any of the “normal” couples they hope to be able to emulate, at least in public. This should, given the context and the plotline, be far more gripping than it is, and there seems to have been a missed opportunity to explore the psychological aspects of serial killers and why they behave as they do – instead, a subplot involving a television doctor and a narcissistic host simply lampoons medical opinion. Does crime pay? I couldn’t possibly say.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Comaweng

A dark and witty look into the psyche of a sociopath from an award-winning writing duo.
Winner of The Cameron Mackintosh Award 2018, NSDF Edinburgh Award, and The Stage Pick of The Fringe 2017. When Rose and Harry meet on a date, they uncover something extraordinary: they’re both serial killers. Buried is an unconventional love story, a tale of friendship found where you’d least expect that explores the line between good and evil, normal and monstrous. With hilarious dark comedy and catchy, soulful folk, this musical demonstrates how love is unique to everyone and illuminates the darkness in us all.

Buried: A New Musical
By Tom Williams & Cordelia O’Driscoll
True love hurts. Especially when you’re a serial killer.
Ermintrude, Bristo Square, Underbelly
Dates: 1-27th August (not 10th), 17:10
https://www.edfringe.com/

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