In 2019, Samuel Dariol presented a tender homage to his nonna with La Nonna, where he shared her life and choices that led her to moving to Australia and raising her family. In 2024, we once again meet nonna (and nonna) but this time it's all about sauce making day with La Nonna's Saucy Sauce Day. I may not be Italian but I am very aware of how significant sauce making day is for Italian families.
Dariol and Anna Cerreto are exceptional as the nonnas. It's testament to Dariol's strong performance from 2019 that the 2024 nonna feels so familiar and welcoming. The mannerisms of the nonnas are scarily accurate and they display effective commitment to these matriarchs. The inclusion of some contemporary dance breaks are highly entertaining and seeing how they attempt to make this day a success is a joy to watch unfold, despite their setbacks.
While this will lead to potential spoilers, it is impossible to give La Nonna's Saucy Sauce Day an accurate review without mentioning this. Instead of summoning Black Madonna, the nonnas summon Blak Madonna, an Indigenous spirit who teaches them about community and caring for the land. It's a nice twist in exploring the differences and similarities between the two cultures’ practices and customs, however, the way this plays out in this show completely breaks the tone and mood of the chaotic Italian kitchen and hyperbolic nonnas and leans too far into being a lesson about Indigenous land rights and caring for the land.
La Nonna's Saucy Sauce Day is a camp, drag performance with storytelling, music, dancing and most importantly...food. Its incorporation of Indigenous culture is clever but for this show to be a success overall, it needs to keep the focus on the nonnas and their story.
La Nonna's Saucy Sauce Day was performed 7 - 11 February at La Mama Theatre.
Image Credit: Darren Gill