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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2019: Sauce

Sauce by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth. Image by Set Murray


Comfort Food

DUETS. The latest brainchild from Fishamble: The New Play Company, Dublin Fringe Festival, and Irish Theatre Institute. An artists development initiative that sees two artists paired together to develop a tour-ready new work. If it sounds odd, it’s because it probably is. Yet the wise money would never bet against Fishamble. Just look at their hugely successful Show in a Bag model. Given the calibre of the writer, performers, and director involved with debut DUETS production “Sauce,” written by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, with story developed with Camille Lucy Ross, you’d be doubly right not to bet against it. Because “Sauce” is simply delicious.

A dish best served any time of day or night, “Sauce” is a comedy meal so sumptuous, it's finger licking good. Set over the course of a life changing day or so, “Sauce” delves into the broken lives of two broken women. Finding themselves alone, and looking for somewhere to live, the lying Mella, carer for her recently deceased Grandmother, and the thieving Maura, a woman who gives the phrase ‘take-away’ a whole other meaning, find themselves thrown together after Maura interrupts her husband in the middle of cheating on her. Feeling overweight, undersexed, and undervalued, their chance meeting at a weight watchers class reveals a shared passion for sauces. As well as the need for a real friend. But how can you be true to someone when you’ve lived your whole life as a lie? Or give someone what they need when you’ve always stolen to fill the needs in yourself?

If Smyth’s recent work showed the hallmarks of being in transition, "Sauce" is a whole other beast. Gone is an over reliance on the episodic, sketch show format, replaced here with a coherent, superbly interwoven story that gallops along as it takes you along with it. Indeed, with “Sauce,” Smyth serves up depth and humour as she interrogates the sins, secrets, and sleazy underbelly of suburban Dublin. Along with the souls of two beautifully crafted characters. In finding her range, Smyth reveals some hidden depths, wearing her wounded heart on her sleeve at times. And, oh, it is simply wondrous to behold.

All of which finds its exacting expression in Smyth’s superb performance as Mella. No mean feat given the spellbindingly brilliant Camille Lucy Ross as Maura, who simply lights up the stage. Indeed, Lucy Ross is a revelation, with both performers looking to have found their respective comedic soul mates, resembling a comedy duo decades in the making. Director Jeda De Brí, once again, confirms her credentials as one of the best directors around. Under her astute gaze, De Brí delivers smart pacing and an ultra smart physicality. If it makes for good physical fun, there’s a deadly seriousness underscoring it all, superbly constructed by a compositionally astute mind working at the top of their game.

Merging new ideas in new combinations, and crafting new imaginings that enlighten as they delight, “Sauce” is a reminder of what Fringe can do best. For “Sauce” sees Smyth break your heart with a gorgeous vulnerability, while having you smirking at the cleverness of it all and laughing out loud. Like your favourite comfort food, “Sauce” is the perfect indulgence. So good it should come with its own health warning. Fun, Fringe, and irresistibly flavoursome, “Sauce” is far too tasty to be missed.

“Sauce” written by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, a DUETS production by Fishamble: The New Play Company, Dublin Fringe Festival, and Irish Theatre Institute, runs at Bewley’s Café Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 until Sept 21.

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