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Trout Stanley

by Claudia Dey

In her third play, Trout Stanley, poet and playwright Claudia Dey presents Sugar and Grace Ducharme, a pair of seriously messed-up, non-identical twins burning off some hardcore bad karma. Try as they may, these girls just can’t seem to celebrate a birthday without somebody dying. It’s their 30th birthday, and it seems to be shaping up like all the others: a stripper, who is also the local Scrabble champion, is missing, and there could be a killer on the loose.

Families, Oscar Wilde observed, haven’t the faintest notion how to live or when to die, and these Ducharmes show the truth of that line.

Enter Trout Stanley, part caveman, part sensualist. He’s on the hunt for the lake where his parents died. In fact, he’s been walking north for 10 years when he stumbles upon Sugar, who, in a moment of inspiration, decides it’s her turn to be the cadaver at this year’s birthday party by committing suicide. In a nutshell: Sugar lives, love blooms, Grace comes home, gets jealous, and tries to seduce Trout while Sugar’s passed out on the couch, ties him up, and then spills the beans on her relationship with her sister.

Dey, an alumna of The National Theatre School’s playwrighting department and the playwright-in-residence for the past five years at Toronto’s Factory Theatre, sets the action up with kooky stage directions for repeated, short sentences interspersed with long, rambling monologues that hint and suggest but don’t do anything or go anywhere. There’s an element of mystery – just what is this Trout Stanley’s game? What exactly is all this suffering the sisters keep speaking of?

Dey is tackling some heavy issues, and her style has faint whispers of Sam Shepard and Tennessee Williams. Unfortunately, these whispers are not fully realized and get drowned out by what comes off as gimmicky theatre. The deus ex machina comes in the form of a glimmer of hope. The search for hope can be exhaustive, but can’t it be poetic or thought-provoking or entertaining as well?


Reviewer: Elizabeth Mitchell

Publisher: Coach House Books


Price: $13.95

Page Count: 80 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55245-162-3

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 2005-8

Categories: Politics & Current Affairs