“You get what you deserve in life”
It’s Sugar & Grace Ducharme’s 30th birthday. But though it’s an auspicious date, it’s also loaded with significance for the pair – their triplet died at birth, they also lost both their parents on the same day and since then, Grace keeps finding a dead body every year. And though they shared a womb, they could not (literally) be more different – Grace’s gregariousness is reflected in her putative local modelling career whereas Sugar hasn’t left their cabin in British Columbia for 10 years. And so begins Trout Stanley.
Vinette Robinson’s Grace is a kinetic ball of energy – big hair, big boots and big attitude as she dominates the household, Sinéad Matthews’ comparatively meek Sugar a quieter but still utterly captivating presence in her mother’s beloved old shellsuit as she lives vicariously through her sibling, longing for the day she can love someone for real. The unconventional emotional relationship between the pair is excellently portrayed, their chemistry palpable but one that is subject to change when an outside element is introduced.
And that element comes in the form of the eponymous Trout Stanley. A mysterious figure who could be a serial killer and who enjoys sniffing slippers, but who can only tell the truth and who lost his own parents due to an unfortunate incident with a metal detector. His arrival, played with no little intrigue by Dylan Smith, jolts the sisters out of their usual routine and as an all-consuming passion takes over Trout and Sugar, the shift in the balance causes them to question so much that they hold true about their situation and their relationship.
This they do through Claudia Dey’s gift for elliptic, almost poetic prose that she has fashioned into a number of monologues that pepper the script, making Matt Steinberg’s production something of a challenge to get into but once attuned, it does pay rewards. The vivid imagery and rhythmic quality of the speech could perhaps have done with a little pruning, just to make it entirely precise, where currently there are moments where it feels close to meandering. But the way in which she builds up the intensity for the final scenes is expertly done, pushing us all close to the edge.
Trout Stanley is undoubtedly a quirky piece of theatre – with a name like that, how could it not be – but an unexpected thriller and one well worth the effort and your undivided attention as its hillbilly creepiness winds to a deeply affecting finale. Plus the opportunity to see such a fine actress as Matthews in close proximity should never be passed up, and supported so well by Robinson and Smith, it makes the Southwark Playhouse the new home of Southern (London) Gothic.