Innocence Lost; the human cost of a wrongful conviction

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The Centaur's latest production

“You will be hanged by the neck until you are dead," Justice Ronald Ferguson pronounced to Truscott after the  verdict was read. "May the Lord have mercy upon your soul."

Lynne Harper (Joan Wiecha) & Steven Truscott (Trevor Barrette)

Innocence Lost: a play about Steven Truscott, written by playwright Beverley Cooper, was a sold out hit when it premiered at the Blyth Festival in 2008. It also proved to be a roaring success when it was revived the following season due to popular demand.

Nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, Innocence Lost re-examines Canada’s most controversial wrongful conviction and focuses on the human cost of this tragedy. In 1959, fourteen-year-old Steven Truscott was sentenced to hang for the rape and murder of his twelve-year-old schoolmate, Lynne Harper, making him the youngest person to sit on Canada's death row. Maintaining his innocence throughout, he was acquitted by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2007. His case made international headlines and contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in this country.

“A fictional character named Sarah, a young farm girl and classmate of Steven Truscott, guides us through this powerful true story. Through Sarah, we witness how the small town of Clinton, Ontario was torn apart and forever changed by this tragedy,” says Roy Surette, the Artistic and Executive Director of Centaur Theatre.

 “Innocence Lost is not meant to be the definitive word on the trial, conviction and acquittal of Steven Truscott but rather a look at how events unfolded from Sarah's point of view and how those events affected her community.

She is the one asking, “How did this happen?” Although I have taken liberties with history for the purpose of making a play, I have tried to keep the characters based on real people as true to their original intentions as possible. I tried to put together what happened on that day in 1959, piece by piece,” says Beverley Cooper.

I tried to put together what happened on that day in 1959, piece by piece,” says Beverley Cooper.

An excellent cast led by Jenny Young (Sarah) and Fiona Reid (Isabel LeBourdais) is comprised of leading stage actors from Montreal and across the country, and emerging artists from Montreal and Ottawa.

Director Roy Surette has called upon a talented team to flesh out this outstanding production: James Lavoie’s costumes and minimalist set are enhanced by Luc Prairie’s imaginative lighting, original music by Keith Thomas and powerful video design by George Allister and Patrick Andrew Boivin. Stage Manager Melanie St-Jacques is assisted by Samira Rose and Millie Tresierra is the Assistant Director.

Immediately after its Montreal run, Innocence Lost will open at the NAC from February 27 to March 16, 2013.

 “…a powerful play depicting the tragic miscarriage of justice in the Steven Truscott case. Beverley Cooper goes beyond documenting a court case to thoroughly engage the reader in a poignant examination of the loss of innocence. ” Canada Council for the Arts

 When and where

The play runs from January 29 – February 24. For tickets and/or additional information, go to:



Organizations: Centaur, Ontario Court, Centaur Theatre NAC Canada Council for the Arts

Geographic location: Canada, Montreal, Clinton Ontario Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Lorna Loomis
    March 07, 2013 - 13:19

    This is an awesome play. I recently saw it performed at the NAC, in Ottawa. Very thought provoking. Wonderful acting and casting. I would highly recommend this play to every Canadian, young or elderly. Teenagers need to learn about it, the elderly to be reminded of it, and those of us, like myself, who are now middle aged, need to see it to increase our inderstanding as to the reason Steven Truscott and his family lived through, what became an ordeal, for their entire family, as well as for many families in the Clinton, Ontario, area.