I was at the hipper-than-thou (and certainly hipper than I) Storefront Theatre Friday night, to see TROUT STANLEY, Severely Jazzed Productions' revival of Claudia Day's absurdist romance, from a decade ago.
It begins with a dance sequence/burglary. I had a brief moment of terror, thinking I was about to spend 2 hours trapped in some twee/ironic break-neck take on the text, that was all about style, trashing any, and all, substance in the process.
My concerns were rapidly assuaged, and proved unfounded. The opening warms up the audience to what is a very good production. This TROUT STANLEY is a stylish show, but one with both a lot of laughs, and a lot of heart.
Dey's play is Canadian Gothic, at its most over-wrought, and a tough play to nail tonally. Director Daniel Pagett, and his talented, and very funny cast deftly make the most of the laughable aspects of the script, without abandoning either the poetry of the text, or the script's romantic core. The pace never flags, and the two acts fly by.
The trio of Tess Degenstein, as Grace Ducharme, the out-going, garbage-picking, poster girl, Hannah Spear as Sugar Ducharme, her gangly, agoraphobic, depressed twin sister, and Colin Munch, as the mysterious, bearded, Trout Stanley, all do fine work.
The performers have backgrounds in improv comedy, which they draw on to good advantage: bringing both skilled physicality, and a willingness to take both their situations, and their affect, to the edge of insanity. Both their character, and ensemble work are a real treat to watch.
Spear and Munch make a delightfully gawky, yet endearing, couple. Degenstein, also manages to hold her own, makes us sympathize with a not especially sympathetic character. In her too-tight romper, white rodeo-cut cowboy boots, and Marie Antoinette-like pink wig, she slowly reveals the insecurity, and neediness inside a girl who has always had all the attention in the room, and isn't willing to give it up without a fight.
Production designer Hanna Puley provides a sophisticated, minimal, but, workable set. The sound, and lighting (Daniel Maslany and Melissa Joakim) amp up both the tension, and the laughter in the play, in all the right spots.
TROUT STANLEY is a very fun, feel-good, and enjoyable night out.
TROUT STANLEY, written by Claudia Day, continues at The STOREFRONT THEATRE, 955 Bloor Street West, until June 6th. Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, with matinees at 2:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. tickets range from $15-$25 and may be purchased in advance through: www.secureaseat.com