TROUT STANLEY by Claudia Dey, directed by Eda Holmes, with Michelle Giroux, Melody Johnson and Gordon Rand. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to February 6, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday and February 5 at 2 pm. $25-$34, Sunday pwyc-$20, February 1 gala $100, some stu/srs discounts. 416-504-9971. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
In Trout Stanley, Claudia Dey finesses quirky characters into high theatrical art. She's helped in this production of the work's Toronto premiere by an expert cast and a director whose sense of timing is razor-sharp.
In a small northern BC mining town, fraternal twins Grace ( Michelle Giroux ) and Sugar ( Melody Johnson ) live as virtual income-earning husband and housewife, Sugar not having been out of their cabin since their parents died a decade ago. Grace takes care of the town dump and has modelled on a billboard ad for Stan's Western Gear and Shooting Range.
Enter - stealthily - the title character ( Gord Rand ), named for a fish, a man who claims always to be telling the truth. Creating a disturbing triangle in the household, the quietly charming Trout disrupts the sisters' cozy lives and sets all three of them on a journey toward sometimes uncomfortable change.
This threesome are some of the most eccentric characters we've seen from Dey, and they're matched by others who are only referred to - another sister for Grace and Sugar, Trout's own tiny twin, and a Scrabble champ/stripper whose disappearance has a major effect on the play's action.
Dey's kaleidoscopic writing jumps from the poetic to the bizarre, from the lyrical to the absurd in a few words. The frequently arresting imagery spilling out of people's mouths lends music to the sometimes dark, sometimes comic action, which involves various loves bent out of shape by too much or too little expression.
The production's further buoyed by its first-rate cast. Rand, Johnson and Giroux play these emotionally and sometimes physically entangled people with utter openness, trust and belief in the reality of what they say and do. Director Eda Holmes helps them savour the rhythms of the language and gives the production beautiful pacing, all of which makes us care for a trio whose skewed lives run everywhere but straight ahead.
From Rough House's comic pratfalls to Trout Stanley's eccentrics and Little Dragon's kicks, there's lots to enjoy in T.O. theatres