Sauce, Dublin Fringe Festival (Ireland)

Two women in a bind discover that friendship adds piquancy to their lives in this fast-paced, comedic two-hander.

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Sauce. From the simplest vinaigrette to the richest red wine reduction, sauces add piquancy to any dish. In Sauce, written by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, with story development by Camille Lucy Ross, two unhappy women discover that friendship serves the same purpose as sauce in their lives.

Mella (Smyth) is a compulsive liar who has found herself suddenly homeless. Maura (Ross) is a kleptomaniac whose unfaithful husband has just thrown her out of their home. When they meet each other at a weight loss group in their local church, the women’s complementary traits mean they quickly hit it off – though their worst habits also threaten to drive them apart.

Engaging and enormously enjoyable, this comedic romp – dynamically directed by Jeda De Brí – has grown out of the DUETS initiative, a new artist development program designed to create tour-ready new work and supported by the Irish Theatre Institute, Fishamble: The New Play Company, and Dublin Fringe Festival.

Sauce isn’t quite tour-ready – one or two scenes are over-extended, a late gear-change into drama drags, and the conclusion feels rushed, as if the playwright had a longer work in mind but was compelled to wrap up proceedings in a hour for the Fringe lunchtime performance spot – but the performances are skilled and engaging, with Smyth and Ross playing a range of characters in a series of quickly changing scenes, and laughs abound throughout. Sound design by Jennifer O’Malley and Colm Maher’s lighting design help speed the story along.

With further finessing, this short dramedy will enthral – as it stands, it’s flawed but still bursting with energy and highly entertaining.

3 stars out of 5 ★★★

Performed by Camille Lucy Ross & Ciara Elizabeth Smyth
Written by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth, with story development by Camille Lucy Ross
Directed by Jeda De Brí
Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, Dublin
10, 12, 13, 17, 19 & 21 September

Dublin Fringe Festival
7-22 September 2019

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts