How can you make a musical about the slasher genre? Fundamental problems arise given that slashers have an ever-decreasing cast, jump-scares are impossible to recreate on stage and any inhuman villain will instantly lose credibility when they burst into song. Riptide: The Slasher Musical takes on the challenge and succeeds by means of a camp, tongue-in-cheek approach that shows up the absurdities of the genre.
The musical begins with a group of Grease-style high-school archetypes enjoying their spring break in a place called Innocent Beach. That is until they’re brutally murdered, one by one. In a masterstroke, the identity of the killer is kept a secret until the end of the show. The mystery pushes the show towards its climax, while allowing moments to pause the action for hilarious exchanges of dialogue and ironically sensitive songs to be sung by the characters who are just about to be snuffed out.
The young cast play their cartoonish characters with a perfect balance of the ridiculous and sublime. And it’s a thrill to watch these dumb teenagers break into huge harmonies.
A laugh a minute, and a death every other, this is a rip-roaring experience.
Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.