I’m not sure where to begin in dissecting Sasquatch: the Opera. It defies dissection just as it defies categorisation. The show bends genre, form and technique in a way that, even in the context of the Fringe, makes it unique and one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen.
Written and entirely funded by Roddy Bottum, former keyboard player of metal band Faith No More, the show certainly was, for lack of a better genre, an opera – but metal influences did glint through. Working with Civil Disobedience Productions, Bottum has brought together talented actors and musicians from various backgrounds to create an opera that sticks two fingers up at operatic tradition and perhaps even at our whole society. There is something Beckett-esque in the characters’ hopeless, repetitive plights, and I was engaged from start to finish in their inevitable paths to destruction.
Telling the story of a fraudster – performed by a stage-owning Joe Chappel – who uses his drug-addicted children to con money out of tourists by using the legend of the sasquatch (or Bigfoot), we are transported into the American forests to meet the real monster that lurks there. Through clever set, smoke, lighting and gorgeous soundscapes, there wasn’t a moment when I was uninterested in what I saw on stage. The singing was exceptional by all members of the cast. Worthy of particular mention is Tristan Viner-Brown, whose aria as the meth-addled Brodder was my highlight.
It should be acknowledged that this show is probably not for everyone. If you like your opera prim and proper then this is not the show for you; if you like your messages clear and unproblematic then you may find yourself uncomfortable. But for me, Sasquatch sums up all that is wonderful about the Fringe: it is extraordinarily beautiful to behold; it makes you think about issues you probably do not think about often enough – and it is it is defiantly original.
[Originally published http://broadwaybaby.com/shows/sasquatch-the-opera/722502]