BWW Review: INNOCENCE LOST at Soulpepper
Soulpepper's production of INNOCENCE LOST: A PLAY ABOUT STEVEN TRUSCOTT is an intense look into a case that changed Canada's judicial system and divided a town.
Written by Beverley Cooper, the play begins in 1959 in Clinton, Ontario, and follows 12-year-old Lynne Harper's (Berkley Silverman) disappearance on a June evening and the case that followed. The story is told by a classmate of Steven Truscott (Dan Mousseau) and Lynne's, Sarah (Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster), who is torn between believing Steven is guilty and wanting him to be innocent. The tragedy follows her throughout her life, and the audience understands the pain and shock of Lynne Harper's murder through the eyes of another young girl.
The ensemble piece was brought to life by a small cast, often changing outfits to become a different character. As the audience's eyes into the story, Lancaster was an emotive and grounded presence - although she often seemed unsure of what she thought, she held to what she did believe strongly. Sarah is constantly torn between a father (John Cleland) who wasn't sure of the verdict and a mother (Deborah Drakeford) who seemed to want Truscott to be guilty just to ease her own worries.
Drakeford was charming as the town gossip and proved to be a talented voice actor, switching her dialect throughout the show to perform several diverse roles. Playing the Chatelaine writer who upset the balance of the town after Truscott's trial, Isabel LeBourdais (Nancy Palk) was a shifty figure with the best intentions, brought to life wonderfully by Palk.
As the central figure in the story and real-life case, Morneau played a quiet, reserved Steven Truscott. He had a great physical approach to Steven and really came across as if he were a 14-year-old himself, despite the gap between the actor's and character's ages.
The entire production was heightened by the set design (Camellia Koo) and lighting (Bonnie Beecher). The minimalistic approach to the design made the dialogue and action stand out that much more, and the actors' being able to directly act with the trees surrounding the stage and the dirt on the floor ensured that the setting was always a part of the story as a whole. Lighting was also masterfully handled, with soft, warm lighting in more intimate moments contrasted by stark white, almost washed out lighting in courtroom and interrogation scenes.
Despite being based on an actual event and on real people - some who are still living today - INNOCENCE LOST is a respectful and powerful telling of the story of Steven Truscott that will keep viewers on the edge of their seat.
INNOCENCE LOST: A PLAY ABOUT STEVEN TRUSCOTT, presented by Soulpepper, runs through June 23 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit soulpepper.ca