Friday 7 March 2014

Riptide: A slasher musical

Riptide - photo credit Bill Knight
Riptide: A Slasher Musical: Simon and Mark Nathan, Chazz Redhead: Atomicus Productions at the Rosemary Branch
Reviewed by Hilary Glover on Mar 1 2014
Star rating: 4.0

A rip-roaring, blood-splattering, musical mystery

"Death is coming to Innocent Beach, and he doesn’t give a shit about your tan..."

Intrigued? Riptide: A Slasher Musical, by Simon and Mark Nathan, showing at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, is a rip-roaring, blood-splattering, musical mystery. Directed by the show's author, Chazz Redhead, with music and lyrics by the Nathan brothers, Riptide was all that a comedy musical should be. A real 50's B movie affair, complete with low budget effects, wobbly staging, and copious amounts of spurting blood. What’s not to like?

The stage is set on Innocent Beach where two real estate guys (Ian Angus Wilkie and Chazz Redhead) discussed developing the land for building seafront houses – the only problem being the legend of ‘Shelley’ which has blighted the beach for three years. We do not know exactly who Shelley was, or what they did, only that it was horrific and that the monster is thought to still stalk the beach at night.

Cue entry of students on spring break, whose car runs out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, with a headline song that could be straight from the B52s, and perfectly choreographed by Victoria Liscombe. Every student archetype was covered and each had their own story to tell and song to sing - each in their own individual musical style, including rap.

Their leader, Brad the ‘jock’ (Joe Leather), is chasing clever Naomi (Sandra Mackenzie) who really is not interested in him. Cheerleader Tiffany (Charlotte Debattista) and Chad the closet gay (Philip Raymond) both hold an unrequited torch for an oblivious Brad. Tina ‘It’s not fat it’s muscle’ (Seánna O’Neill) just wants to be friends, while Gideon (Julian Silverman), the geeky one, is too timid to believe that anyone could be interested in him.

On their travels they encounter garage attendants (Ian Angus Wilkie and Mark Nathan) who tell the students the legend of Shelley - and then people start to die.

This parody of teen musicals and 50’s horror films was very cleverly done. Think Little Shop of Horrors or a bloodthirsty version of the Rocky Horror Show without the suspenders (although clothes do get ripped). The songs were all immediately recognisable in style, the lyrics very funny and ironic or poignant by turn, and the full on actors had great comic timing and gave complete justice to the witty script.

Joe Leather and Charlotte Debattista
The staging was simple but effective, with scenes projected onto the back wall - saving having to change the backdrop. As you would expect for a slasher musical everyone got covered in more and more blood, including, on the first night, the audience. At the Rosemary Branch the band was hidden away behind the back of the stage so we did not get to see them, but the music was spot on (if a little loud) throughout.

Do not despair if you missed it: Atomicus Productions are taking Riptide to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this year.
Reviewed by Hilary Glover

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