Stones in His Pockets tells the story of a small rural community in Ireland which has been overtaken by a Hollywood film crew whose effects will change their lives forever.
Charlie Conlon (Kevin Trainor) and Jake Quinn (Owen Sharpe) are two locals who have been employed as extras. The film they are starring in is a romanticised vision of Ireland relying heavily on a love story reaching across class divides.
It is the clash between the American vision of Ireland and the reality of the locals’ lives which creates the tension in the show.
Jake has recently returned from America and is disillusioned with his lot in life. Feeling like there is nowhere to go and no opportunities for him in Ireland, he regularly conflicts with the seemingly optimistic Charlie who has written his own film script and is desperately trying to get someone on the set to listen to him long enough to read it. The majority of the props are mimed and the concrete vision of the script constantly rolled up in Charlie’s hands is a poignant reminder of how desperate lack of opportunity can feel.
But tragedy is around the corner, and when a local drug addicted teenager fills his pockets with stones and drowns himself, the ramifications on the local community bring about a devastating rupture in the relationship between the town and the film crew.
Directed by Lindsay Posner, Stones in His Pockets in famous for being a two hander and Trainor and Sharpe play all of the characters in the play in addition to their primary roles.
The set and costumes are very simple. A pretty rural landscape has been created out of grass and the stones which play a key role in the title. The basic costumes are in a trunk which is always present on stage and doubles up as set on occasion. All costume changes are done on stage and blended into the story.
Trainor and Sharpe indicated changes in role by subtly changing their body shape and using different accents and voices for each of the characters. Trainor’s breathy Caroline Giovanni was particularly strong evoking a stereotypical Hollywood starlet. The physical action of both actors was good.
Unfortunately for a play which is relatively short the pace felt incredibly slow on occasion. Obviously it can be difficult for two actors to maintain a high energy performance, particularly when the level of physical action and vocal dexterity is so high.
There was the occasional laugh out loud moment, but on the whole the comedy was very mild and mostly relied on the actors’ ability to alter their voices, particularly when portraying the female characters.
Extras often play multiple roles on film sets so it is a nice reflection that the actors played multiple parts in the play. They are also regularly the bottom of the pile on a film set and this reflected the theme of the play well.
This is a gentle comedy which explores mental health and class issues in an interesting and unique way. It is very easy to forget that all of the roles are played by two actors and both deserve credit for the effort they put into the performance.
Stones in His Pockets is being performed at the Playhouse until 23rd March. Tickets are available here https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/stones-in-his-pockets
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 18th March 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★