A play response by Yitta Reich
Lost and Found Innocence: Lost Innocence Play Review
Centaur Theatre’s production, “Innocence Lost: A play about Steven Truscott,” by Beverly Cooper describes the tragedies that unravel in Clinton, Ontario and that wipe away the innocence of its young townspeople. The play, based on a true story, describes the events that follow the 1959 murder and rape of Lynn Harper through the eyes of a fictional character, Sarah. It describes the traumatic events that change a town when Harper’s 14 year old classmate, Steven Truscott, is convicted for her rape and murder. The play attempts to portray the extent to which rumors can manipulate a whole town into falsely accusing an innocent man in their attempt to find closure. The drama is set between the late 1950’s and 2007, the 48-year time frame in which Truscott’s murder and rape conviction, and dismissal of these charges (2007) occurred.
Although the play doesn’t focus much on gender roles, we get a glimpse of the difference in status between the women and men of that society through the progression of the play. The women in the play take on traditional roles as housewives in charge of cooking and cleaning, while the men are relied upon for working to financially support and sustain the family’s needs. Also, the political jobs that were involved in the conviction of Steven Truscott were occupied by men; all the jury members, the judge, the police officers and the prosecutor are men. The play also conveys the social status of women of the time through Isabel Lebourdais’, a news reporter’s, attempt at gathering information about the Truscott case; her research is met with criticism by the people of Clinton who don’t believe in a woman’s capacity to publish a factual book. She believes her futile attempts are a result of her gender, and claims that had she been a man people would view her differently and as a more reliable source.
The overall direction of the production by Roy Surette was a success. The musical score and the use of stage props, as well as the actors clothing, were effectively chosen, as they gave the audience a clear idea of the specific time period the play reflected. The cast was strong and were able to effectively play their given roles to make their character seem believable to the audience. However, moments of confusion occurred because the characters, including the main ones, played several roles. The actors, Fiona Reid and Allan Morgan, stood out in their roles and gave outstanding performances by adapting to their different roles and acting them out in depth and with emotion. Fiona Reid was especially outstanding in her role as the reporter Isabel Lebourdais, gathering information to contradict the demise of Steven Trescott in her book, “The Trial of Steven Truscott.” Allan Morgan was also notable for his ability to effectively adapt to different roles, some of which were in the same scene.
The play succeeds in relaying the factual information in a chronological manner, allowing the audience to have a clear understanding of the Steven Truscott case. The use of real newspaper articles about the Truscott case, projected on the wall, was an effective method that helped the audience get a sense of reality and helped situate the play within the context of the real-life case. The production was especially effective in portraying the childhoods of the children in Clinton through the use of musical soundtracks, childhood sports and games. By giving the audience a clear and vivid image of childhood, the play was successfully able to show the loss of innocence of the children in Clinton, Ontario after the murder and rape of Lynn Harper, with the transition from the playful childhood into a dull and fearful one. The play took on more of a factual/informal approach rather than evoking emotions from the audience; the information-filled production didn’t necessarily allow the audience to feel strongly connected with the characters and their struggles. The lack of scenes portraying Truscott during his time at prison as well as his parents’ struggle to deal with the process and with the accusations from their fellow townspeople resulted in a failure to emphasise the pain and agony the case brought upon them.
Overall, the play succeeds in capturing reality and informing the audience of Canada’s famous wrongful conviction case of 14-year-old Steven Truscott. The casting was strong and the production reflects the era the play was set in. I would recommend this play to people of all ages, as the content is not graphic despite the plot it recounts.