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Trout Stanley

Claudia Dey’s play receives its UK premiere at Southwark Playhouse, starring Sinéad Matthews, Vinette Robinson and Dylan Smith

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Sugar Ducharme has so much love to give, but she is so afraid. Sugar has not left the house for ten years and she has never been in love. Her twin sister and soul mate, Grace, runs a garbage dump and she is a vixen: she goes out, she puts out and she stands out. She says that her greatest excesses are in the name of irony but we suspect otherwise.

We join Matt Steinberg's UK directorial debut, Trout Stanley, on the sisters' 30th birthday. We learn that, for them, birthdays are a dangerous time: Their triplet did not survive birth; their parents both met their end on this special day and each year Grace has a gruesome knack of coming across a dead body. Sugar's paranoia is understandable and she is portrayed exquisitely by Sinead Matthews who, in a hideous tracksuit, is cat-like in and captivating. There is also a strong chemistry between her and Vinette Robinson's Grace, who provides a sassy, gun-wielding contrast to the meekness of Sugar.

This is all quite a set up for the arrival of the play's mysterious namesake, Trout. Is he a serial killer? Is he an angel? Is he for real? He has so many questions, so many truths to tell. He, like the play, is unsettling: he is uninvited and initially, a clandestine snooper. He transpires to be nomadic and reckless, then inadvertently reveals the duplicity and doubt in the sisters' relationship: a jealousy and a darkness is explored. However, in a performance that constantly maintains great energy through long speeches and quirky dialogue, Dylan Smith's character might ultimately provide some sort of answer for Sugar, although the question is unclear.

Trout Stanley is set in a single room of a house in a remote part of British Columbia, but there is a great deal going on. At times the story of the infamous twins and their unexpected visitor advances at bewildering pace and yet the characters Claudia Dey has created have sufficient depth to maintain our involvement and interest as the drama unfolds.

The actors' grasp of the local accent is astoundingly good and the quality of the performances ought to please most audiences. At certain moments the material can feel, strangely, both predictable and excessively cool, but, overall there is much to absorb and enjoy.

Trout Stanley runs at The Little theatre, Southwark Playhouse until 7 December