Many Fringe shows make their mark by targeting contemporary issues or ideas in a new and inventive way. Buried: A New Musical dips into the topical fad bag and fishes out the seemingly incompatible subjects of serial killers and dating apps to create a show that’s fresh, feisty and darkly funny.
After swiping right, Rose and Harry meet up on a date, each with the secret intention of offing the other. Once they rumble one another, they soon discover an affinity for murderous thoughts and decide to team up to reimagine Natural Born Killers for the Smartphone generation. There’s a nod to Sweeney Todd in there as well – clearly another strong influence – but by and large, Buried attempts to plough its own furrow.
With her debut score, composer Cordelia O’Driscoll has produced a catchy set of songs that’ll surely stick in the mind like a knife in the chest; recurring favourite Another Me is particularly infectious. In the lead roles, both Lindsay Manion and Sebastian Belli have superb singing voices, with Manion especially eye-catching as the sarcastic but soulful Rose. Elsewhere, the four-strong supporting cast are consistently capable, with Alexander Cosgriff’s hitch-hiking taxidermist and Lawrence Hunt’s clinical psychologist (and just about every other cameo made by Hunt) threatening to steal the show.
Despite their excellent vocal ability and impeccable sense of comedic timing, the cast do struggle when the Tom Williams’ script wanders into weightier territory. It’s at its most proficient when it’s playful; the few attempts to investigate the psyche of a psychopath seem a little forced, while the emotional climax (besides being a little predictable) is unlikely to have anyone in floods of tears. Of course, a show about a serial killing romance demands a certain suspension of disbelief, but the time constraints of the performance mean that the script trips over itself in trying to develop prematurely. That would be fine in a comedy, but it’s less forgivable when it attempts to stray into the realm of tragedy.
Nonetheless, Williams and O’Driscoll have produced an impressive debut effort, and the cast do it as much credit as is possible. With a tightened script and a firmer step in one single direction, Buried has the potential to evolve into something far beyond the constraints of the Edinburgh Fringe.