ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

STONES IN HIS POCKETS by Marie Jones Director: Dave Ward Players Theatre This play started life at the Edinburgh Fringe before moving into the West End for a very successful run. The play is a tragicomedy about a small rural town in Ireland where many of the townspeople are extras in a Hollywood film. This journey allowed the script to be beautifully honed to create a story of suicide, Irish life, at the same time, taking a satirical look at the American film industry. When Tinsel Town came to County Kerry to make a multimillion dollar film, the locals are recruited as extras. The audience was greeted with an open stage in a dark hue with a hint of a faint mountain range going across the back. There was an oblong trunk / box centre stage. This was used in every way to create scene entrances. The lighting was simple and effective, and together with the incidental music added to the ambience of the play. The stones are in Sean Harkin’s pocket to aid his suicide; Sean is a drug addict wastrel but he was also a relevant member of the community, so the filming has to come to a standstill for his funeral. All the storytelling comes from two of the film extras who also have to double many of characters on the film set. The direction allowed the transition from character to character to flow, and there was no confusion for the audience. The use of the box by the actors created enough visual statements which gave added depth to the drama and helped to keep the audience engaged. The two film extras are Charlie, who is “on the run from himself ”, and Jake, who had left Ireland for America but became homesick and returned. The success of the piece is on the portrayal of the many recurring characters. Chris Billington played Charlie, and eight other characters, among them was Fin Sean’s best friend, rebel-rousing Mickey, and the film’s female lead, Caroline Giovanni. There was the minimum of movement to indicate character change. The array of film and locals was effectively portrayed. Chris held the audience through out. Playing Jake was Pete Thorburn. Included in his seven characterisations were members of the film crew. Pete ensured that each of his characters was believable with the minimum of costumes and props. Repeated film scenes humorously included the calls, “turnover-speed mark it”, and “action and check the gate”. The comedy sat well next to the tragedy. This ofttimes funny and moving play was theatrically dramatic and captured the audience’s imagination.