Riptide: The Slasher Musical: Fun but Simplistic

Written by Laura Elliott

Riptide: The Slasher Musical gives it all up in the title.

Riptide: The Slasher Musical gives it all up in the title. It is, as you’d expect, a parody musical telling the story of a surfer’s “ghost,” who sets out to decimate a group of high school friends who are on holiday for Spring Break.

The premise sets the stage for a Friday the 13th meets Blue Crush meets Scary Movie-style performance. It could be joyfully silly, but for me, there wasn’t enough substance to make some of the more tongue-in-cheek jokes enjoyable.

That isn’t to say, though, that there was nothing worth watching in the young company’s show. 

A promising script

As the Scary Movie franchise has already proved, there is an awful lot of material for parody in the American-teenage-horror genre. This fact hasn’t escaped the writer of Riptide’s script – NSDF award winner Chazz Redhead. 

The dialogue is peppered with over-zealous Spring Break cheering, misguided misogyny, peer pressure, and ridiculous scenes of drinking and drug-taking. Some of these are enjoyable and have their moments of well-timed comedy, but the quick-pace necessary for a Fringe show sometimes means that the quips become a little stale.

Even so, there’s promise here from a young writer, and the two composing brothers Simon and Mark Nathan, who are classically trained.

By and large, the music is impressively arranged and the cheesy pop tone works well with  the parodic themes. 

Impressive performances

The young cast, however, are the highlight of a show that, for me, just missed the mark. Each member, whether they’re on-stage in every scene or making a brief appearance as the misunderstood garage worker, put their all into the performance.

Their harmonizing is impressive, and the energy they bring to the script is infectious. Even those moments that don’t quite live off the page are charged with a huge amount of enthusiasm, and the production is much improved because of it. 

Comedy highlights

There are also moments that make the show worth a watch. And by “moments”, I mostly mean “deaths.” Just as you’d expect in a spoof slasher musical, the death scenes are by far the funniest parts of the show. 

One man gets a starfish to the head, another is impaled on a surf board, and for every dying gasp there are fountains of fake blood that spurt across the stage, and cover the cast from head to toe.

The physical comedy might be a little obvious, but it is certainly satisfying.

In the end

Riptide: The Slasher Musical didn’t set my world alight. It isn’t the best show I’ve seen at the Fringe, and it doesn’t really do anything with the spoof horror genre that hasn’t been done before.

Having said that, the company doesn’t claim to be doing anything new. This is very much a  musical that does what it says in the title, by delivering up exuberant performances, a formulaic plot, and an awful lot of blood spatter.

There is obviously talent here. I just wish that it could have been showcased in a slightly less simplistic production.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.