Buckle Up isn’t the best produced or best written comedy out there. But it is superbly performed.
Billed as an immersive comedy, Buckled Up is both these things, but there’s a question of degree. The set is shaped like an airplane with rows of seats and a center aisle, plus barriers at the front and back. But audience engagement, usually a hallmark of immersive theatre is quite minimal, and the set is too simplistic to really feel like a plane. The immersive set really just limits sightlines, and forces me to turn around to see half the action. The seating could have been redesigned in a runway format (pun not intentional) to the show’s benefit.
As a comedy, Buckle Up is effective with the material it has. The characters are big, weird, interesting, and interact in fun ways. The central concept is sound, and dialogue is quick and snappy, like a good comic sketch. But stretching the simple jokes and concept out to a full length Fringe show reveals the limited amount of material in the writing, and the jokes do get tired with repetition.
The acting takes the writing much further than it goes on its own. The whole cast are magnificent, with great characterization and good timing. At that level, even the little moments take on comic significance. Meg McCarthy plays Lisa, the uptight leader of the cabin crew. The way she forces a smile - lips drawn tightly back, eyes forced into crescent moons that can’t possibly be comfortable - is so totally indicative of a type that little else is necessary to establish her character. All the actors have this kind of awareness and control, and it is a treat to watch.
Buckle Up isn’t the best produced or best written comedy out there. But it is superbly performed. And in this case, that’s enough to make it worth the time.