by Lynn on June 16, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

Written by Beverley Cooper

Directed by Jackie Maxwell

Set by Camellia Koo

Costumes by Sue LePage

Lighting by Bonnie Beecher

Sound by John Gzowski

Cast: Akosua Amo-Adem

John Cleland

Christel Desir

Deborah Drakeford

Caroline Gillis

John Jarvis

Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster

Dan Mousseau

Nancy Palk

Berkley Silverman

A thoughtful, sensitive production of a bracing play about one of the worst incidents in our history—an innocent boy, Steven Truscott, was given the death penalty because of a miscarriage of justice.

The Story. In 1959, in Clinton, Ontario (near Stratford and Blyth) Steven Truscott, aged 14, gave his school friend Lynne Truscott, also aged 12, a ride on his bicycle to take her to meet some friends. He left her off at the bridge. He cycled away but turned to see her get into a car. Two days later she was found in the woods, dead, naked and raped. Steven was charged with murder. Eye witnesses saw him with Lynne on his bike driving to the bridge. They assumed he did it. People embellished their stories. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to death. There was an appeal and his sentence was changed to life in prison. He spent a long time in prison as an adult even though he was a young teen. A reporter, Isabel LeBourdais, thought there was something wrong with the whole trial and began asking questions. Then the truth was revealed.

The Production. Beverley Cooper has written a docudrama of the case that is full of heart-breaking situations, breathtaking moments of ‘what might have been’, and a clear illumination of the obvious miscarriage of justice in the case. Her technique is part narrative directly to the audience and part play in which characters interact and reveal themselves and the facts as a ‘straight play’ would do.

Camellia Koo’s set is bare and stark with a few props filling in the bits and pieces. Bonnie Beecher’s lighting is evocative and moody setting the atmosphere.

Jackie Maxwell has directed this with such a delicate hand. No one is really a villain. Rumor gets the better of everyone and they must go from there. They believe that what they saw was what had to have happened until they are proven wrong. And because of so many eye-witnesses to Steven and Lynne riding by, they naturally thought he had to have killed her. The police never took Steven seriously when he said he saw Lynne get into a car. They misinterpreted him no matter what he said, and it was easy to see a miscarriage of justice. There is a stunning scene in which a school chum of Steven’s, who thought he was innocent, meets him years later at a party. Jackie Maxwell has the adult Steven stand in light stage right which makes him appear in total shadow, the friend is stage left looking at him. They say nothing. It is so moving and so powerful.

Dan Mousseau plays Steven with such a sweet boyishness. He rides his bike across that stage with the confidence and fearlessness of a 14 year old who is loved, safe and free. His relationship with his mother (Caroline Gillis) is affectionate and caring. And she returns it. And she is naturally upset when he is accused. This is a woman trying to hold on and be calm for him. Nancy Palk as Isabel LeBourdais is methodical, measured and firm in her conviction that this young boy was innocent. The acting throughout is very fine, but Mr. Mousseau is a find. He’s one to watch for in the future.

Comment. Beverley Cooper has written a gripping play that reveals one of our darker moments. How people gave in to innuendo, conjecture and rumor and nearly sent an innocent boy to his death.

Presented by Soulpepper Theatre Company

First performance: May 14, 2018.

Closes: June 23, 2018/

Running Time: Two hours.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan Riley June 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Lynn was only 12, yes stories were embellished, by those defending Steven!


2 Dan Riley June 24, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Sorry again, but Steve did not take Lynn to meet some friends, she was dropped of at the intersection at Highway 8, 1/4 mile North if the bridge.