Dating tropes are boring. Chequered table clothes, chandeliers and passable wine are its reoccurring theatrical manifestations and make yet another appearance in Colla Voce’s Buried: A Musical. Luckily for us, they were spiced up a bit by the addition of some arsenic and blood spatter. This is a musical about serial killers.
Rose and Harry fall in love over the numerous dead bodies of their past (and counting). The musical accompaniment is on point, allowing smooth transitions between songs and spoken dialogue, as the ensemble seamlessly move around the two mains to support the plot in whatever role needed. Particularly enjoyable were the "How to Spot a Serial Killer" sequences which showed off the ensemble’s comedic timing and their range of characters. The two leads had strong voices that effortlessly carried the - at times - challenging score, and showed range and strength throughout the piece.
It did what it needed to do: give us a story with a somewhat unconventional subject to keep it from being too mainstream. Yet, it was difficult to get past the fact that these people were serial killers, owners of a past littered with slit necks and foaming at the mouth, and somewhat we had to sympathise with them.
The lack of any kind of violence, hinted at yet never staged, further complicates this. Taking it off stage was meant to keep us focused on the love story at the heart of it, but it also made the subject choice more of a vehicle than an integral part of the piece. A distance was created due to feelings going back and forth between sympathy and disgust. If this was a Brechtian piece I’d say mission accomplished, yet this was decidedly not its intention. With the plot continuing into the second half littered with themes of loneliness and lost love, the credibility of the piece slowly deteriorated with no tears of sympathy left for its ending.
An enjoyable and pitch perfect musical for sure, but one whose subject matter complicates the love story at the heart of it, leaving little room for empathy. Towards its ending, smiles became grimaces in context of the violence simmering underneath.
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