Sasquatch: The Opera review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘oddly hypnotic’
This new opera by Faith No More’s Roddy Bottum feels entirely at home in Summerhall’s late night mind-fuck slot. It’s a fever-dream of a show about a family of hillbilly grifters – named Fodder, Dodder and Brodder –who scrape a living by conning people hoping for a sighting of the mythical Sasquatch. Then daughter, Dodder, a paperclip-limbed junkie fed on meth and mayonnaise by her father and kept on a leash, meets the real Bigfoot and she falls in love with him.
Sasquatch: The Opera is a warped, opioid love story, a monumentally strange interspecies take on Romeo and Juliet in which addiction – and withdrawal – feature prominently.
Designer Michael Hill has strewn the stage with leaves and little molehills of hair. It looks like the room has been infested by Tribbles. The production as a whole is large-scale for a fringe show, boasting a six-strong chorus dressed as meth cooks, along with six musicians, including Bottum on synth.
Ahmed Ibrahim’s production is strong on atmospherics but the scene-to-scene transitions are so awkward and abrupt that the momentum suffers. The performers frequently scuttle off stage. There are however some thunderous vocal performances, particularly from tenor Alex Frankel and bass-baritone Joe Chappel.
There are moments here that feel like a heady mash-up of Tod Browning and David Lynch, and other moments that are just laughably daft. Narrative clarity is not a strong point, but with its scenes of people tweaking in forest glades and communing with the moon, this make for a spectacularly bizarre, occasionally impenetrable but nonetheless hypnotic experience, a throbbing psychotropic oddity.