Given the title and description -- a musical about “friendship, fate and meat” -- I should have been a little more prepared for the experience of Saucisse
. Written, produced and performed by the amazing Helen Donnelly, this is an outlandish, lovely clown show. It’s also very twisted.
The style of Saucisse
is that of a Wild West fireside tale with a dark, even dystopian, twist. It could be compared to movies like The Secret of NIMH
or An American Tail
, something that on the outside looks innocent and cute but is actually pretty scary. The story follows Foo, a bumbling, grumbling peddler trekking across the desert from town to town, trying to hawk his trinkets and living a carefree, albeit empty, troubled life. Foo is joined one evening by Saucisse, a squeaky, adorable little pig (puppeted by Donnelly), who is set on following the “Divine Plan.” Foo and Saucisse travel together and become best friends, but because of the pig’s belief they are heading toward something sinister.
Donnelly is a wildly energetic performer and keeps the audience cackling throughout the show, a difficult task for a single performer spreading her energy over multiple roles. The energy dips a couple of times when scene changes drag on, but this is simply because the audience wants to get back into the hilarious action.
The most jarring aspect of the show is the language. None of the dialogue is comprehensible, as if the characters of Saucisse
speak a strange tongue that is almost English but not quite. For instance, the song titles: “Wandering Star” becomes “Danderting Swar” and “The Mystery Is You” is “Manis Mamy da Doo.” Despite the bizarre, incomprehensible language Saucisse
is strangely eloquent. The narrative is clear, the dialogue has precise direction, and the singing is absolutely beautiful. Donnelly throws her voice from a grumbling bass to operatic heights, and she is a delight to listen to, even if you can’t understand the words.
is a ridiculous, funny show that goes to dark places. Being unable to understand exactly what’s going on, given the dialogue, does the play a service. Not only is the audience thoroughly entertained, but they’re free to interpret and make up their own endings. And they're maybe a little terrified.
Saucisse runs until Sat, Oct 20. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Pia Bouman School for Ballet, 6 Noble St. $10-20. fooandfriends.com