In The Ventriloquist, Larry Tremblay directs his celebrated mastery of the dramatic monologue to an interrogation of the process of characterization itself. Alone on the stage with his puppet, the ventriloquist introduces his “self ” as a construct of characters, along with his “other” imagined characters, to an audience which bears witness to the enormous psychological risks an author must take in the creative process. Constantly walking the dangerously thin edge separating the creation of voice from its appropriation, the ventriloquist struggles to control and shape an imaginary dialogue that we know originates from a single source, but successfully creates the illusion of personal conflict and resolution, success and failure, triumph and despair.
Part of the extended metaphor of interaction between an authoritative adult psychoanalyst and a deeply disturbed adolescent patient, each of the characters in The Ventriloquist is stripped of their clothes of convention, encouraged to reveal both their “real” and “imagined” transgressions of mind and body, to break free of the constraints and taboos against incest, abuse, dominance and submission which are at one and the same time both the foundations and the limitations of the most fundamental of human interactions. As fractured as the process of writing itself, with all of its false starts, pauses, blockages and revisions, both the ventriloquist and his puppet in this play become a series of unresolved vocalized texts and erasures of self and other, locked in the struggle of the constructed self to imagine an other that is, in the end, more than merely an elaborated fragment of whom any given character represents from one moment of successful illusion to the next in both the “real” and the “imaginary” world.