Trout Stanley takes us to the romantic edge

Virgin twins Grace and Sugar Ducharme (who look nothing alike) live in an isolated cabin in backwoods BC.

Virgin twins Grace and Sugar Ducharme (who look nothing alike) live in an isolated cabin in backwoods BC.

Grace is a hard-ass billboard model with a bad dye job, who also runs the local dump.

Sugar hasn’t been out of the house, or her dead mother’s tracksuit, in 10 years.

Sound like the makings of a good story?

Keep reading.

The action begins when a girl, not just any girl, but a Scrabble champ-stripper from the next town disappears on the night before the twins’ 30th birthday.

A drifter, with mussed up hair and a heart of gold, shows up to wake the sisters from their sleepy lives.

This is the story of Trout Stanley, a fairy tale of sorts from edgy Canadian playwright Claudia Dey. It’s playing at the Guild Hall in Porter Creek this week and next as a co-production with Sour Brides Theatre.

And it’s a must-see.

The two-and-a-half-hour production is a dark comedy, with emphasis on the word ‘dark.’

Its plot works through diversion. It keeps the audience on its toes by tempering the tragic with the comic.

One minute we’re swimming in the depths of Sugar’s anguish — when she stands on a kitchen chair with a hangman’s noose tight around her neck.

The next we’re delighted by the ridiculous thought of slow snail lovemaking.

Trout Stanley was written in 2004 by Dey, who has two other published scripts to her credit: The Gwendolyn Poems (2002) and Beaver (2003).

Dey’s story is wholly unique and her writing is unquestionably bang-on fantastic.

Her characters speak poetry. Each sentence they utter is jam-packed with images and allusions that carry us from the moment’s action through all the joy and pain the characters have experienced in their lives to round them out as full people.

The script is layered so thick with meaning it would take a chisel to even scratch the surface.

The production’s ultimate success lies in how well the actors wear their characters.

The three actors bring the strange personalities to life by immersing themselves in the roles.

Sugar, played by Celia McBride, is true to her name. She’s sweet and child-like and plays the foil to her sister’s abrasive edges.

McBride throws herself unabashedly into the character, delivering her lines with wide eyes and fingering holes in the worn-out tracksuit as she speaks.

Sugar cooks and cleans and crafts, while Grace goes out into the world and brings home the bacon.

Moira Sauer shines as Grace.

Sauer slides into the character like she slides into the skin-tight camouflage zip-up and rodeo-style cowboy boots she sports for most of the scenes.

It’s easy to see that McBride and Sauer delight in playing the extreme roles.

Title character Trout Stanley is played by Montreal-based professional actor Graham Cuthbertson.

Trout, a lost soul searching for his parent’s death-place in a Far North lake, is both menace and messiah to the twins.

As the action unfolds, it becomes clear these characters have a tenuous grip on reality. Each has been through countless, albeit farcical, tragedies, but together they find a new kind of happiness.

In spite of, or perhaps because of their quirks, all three are characters you’d want to have over for dinner.

Emma Tibaldo, a Montreal-based director who has worked on productions across the country, came to Whitehorse to put her touch on Trout.

The set, designed by Whitehorse assemblage artist Scott Price, is almost a character in itself.

It’s a hodgepodge of rusty metal and rough wood that looks like it’s been scavenged from Squatter’s Row.

Ridged, translucent sheets that run from floor to ceiling cleverly delineate the stage’s edges.

The best and most-disturbing part of the set is the collection of “tragics” Sugar handcrafts from decapitated old doll heads and mismatched bodies.

The costumes, designed by Linda Talbot, are first-rate campy.

However, the best is the Scrabble champion stripper’s garb — short-shorts and belly-baring top, complete with white fringe and checkered, Scrabble-board fabric lining the edges.

The outfit alone is worth the price of admission.

Shows continue at 8 p.m. sharp from Wednesday through Saturday and next week at the Guild Hall in Porter Creek. Tonight is pay what you can night.

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