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Trout Stanley a delightfully weird play
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Trout Stanley
Balagan Theatre
Through March 6


David Gassner delights in directing plays that you walk out of saying something like, "That is a weird play." Such is his delight with Trout Stanley, by Claudia Dey, now performing at Balagan Theatre. This is a truly delightful and truly weird play. Dey also writes poetic monologues for her quirky characters, painting pictures of their thoughts and surroundings with unique expression.

Sugar and Grace Ducharme are twin sisters who live together in a small Canadian town deep in the woods. Grace (Sarah Budge) is a garbage woman who loves to tease the locals and is considered the town sex symbol. Sugar (Angela DiMarco) is the scared, isolated, servile sister who hasn't left the house for 10 years, and who has worn her mother's tracksuit for 10 years, also.

It's their 30th birthday and another young woman, whose birthday is also on that day, has gone missing and is presumed dead. Maybe a killer is loose in the area. In sneaks Trout Stanley (Ryan Higgins), a man who says he never lies, and doesn't know why his parents named him after a fish. He talks his way into Sugar's house using just the language Grace has told her to be wary of: I'm lost, I need help. Is Trout Stanley the killer? He says he is not, and also says he never lies. But he does admit that if he were the killer, he probably would say he did not kill anyone. Which is a little confusing.

The small cast does well with the quirky script and the lyrical passages, but Di Marco's light shines a little brighter as she putters around the house and tries to make her sister happy. She makes a worn tracksuit and slipper socks look like riveting costuming. Sugar tells us she used to be more out in the world and even had a budding small business making figurines, though her figurines specialized in the deformed and a little macabre. She tells us that she has no problem watching things on television that are violent, like watching an arm get cut off, but she faints at "normal" things like people saying "hello."

Trout Stanley, if he is telling the truth, has grown up without his parents who drowned in a lake. He has been trying to get there for some sense of closure, which Sugar understands very well. The Ducharme parents are also dead. Higgins uses his scruffy looks to good effect to portray this drifter whose parents neglected him so much that he called the television "mother."

Grace seems content with her life, even though she talks of getting married. She appears married enough to her sister, and likes the care lavished upon her. It begins to become clear that Grace is intent on keeping Sugar from going anywhere, and certainly from going anywhere with Trout. Budge has an awkward sexiness she blends to show both a woman sure of her sexuality and also one who doesn't really believe in it.

Maridee Slater's set is the most intricate that Balagan has ever had. Lighting by Terra Morgan delicately focuses the action, and sound by M. Elizabeth Eller weaves in the nature sounds and Heart music deftly. Even if you're not sure what it all adds up to, it's an entertaining evening of theater. For more information, go to www.balagantheatre.org or www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.


Scorsese's Shutter Island as beautiful as it is creepy
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Shutter Island
Opening February 19


Shutter Island, the new flick from top American filmmaker Martin Scorsese, is a creepy ride into an insane landscape  literally. Scorsese + horror? Mm-mmm good.

Shutter Island is an institution for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachusetts. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) go there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient named Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer). The ferry leaves, a storm blows in, and things pretty much go to hell. Trapped on the island, Teddy and his partner must figure out Dr. Cawley's (Ben Kingsley) game if they ever hope to leave.

Shutter Island is really two movies in one (if you havent read the book). The first time you see it, it plays out one way. The second time you see it, and know the trick; it's a whole new ballgame.

Shutter Island is definitely a Scorsese flick. The photography by veteran Robert Richardson is breathtaking. The camera angles are surprising without being pretentious. The POV as the Nazi guards are dismissed is chilling. The sweeping aerial shots of the landscape are dizzying. The dream sequences are lovely and listless and, as usual in a Scorsese flick, always on the verge of slipping over the top (but they never do).

The ubiquitous use of CGI serves to put the camera places its never gone before instead of just creating monsters and aliens. It's also employed to draw a subtle line of demarcation between realities. The CGI does not produce fantastic images; instead it enriches the narrative by enriching the narrative's world.

The first-rate cast is excellent. DiCaprio has grown into a seamless leading man who makes it look easy (though I wish his head weren't so large). Kingsley gives a softly nuanced performance that will make the second screening of Shutter Island even more fun than the first. Michelle Williams once again steals scenes from A-list male megastars, and I loved seeing Max von Sydow as a shady doctor with an odd sense of humor.

The story, adapted from the novel by Dennis Lehane and written for the screen by Laeta Kalogridis, isn't exactly what we've come to expect a horror film to be. That's unfortunate because this is what a horror film should be. Horror is not about the hack 'n' slash - though there is gore in Shutter Island - it's about the possibility of something horrific that truly terrifies. Scorsese channels a little Hitchcock for this one, and rightly so.

Yes, there's a trick ending. No, you won't figure it all out. The last 20 minutes yank you to and fro and you won't get it all until the bitter end. Once more, rightly so.

There are a couple of niggling reservations that keep Shutter Island from being among Scoreseses best. The preachy dialogue about the history of mental illness slows the pace and the intersection between insane asylums and concentration camps feels a bit tortured.

I was also concerned when they pushed the release date to February, but after seeing it, I really like this film. It's creepily good fun and has a few nice surprises, too. It's not Scorsese's best, but it's still Scorsese. On his worst day, he's formidable.






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