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I'm so happy I found this and can review it!
I saw Stones in his Pockets a few nights ago, as it is currently on tour around the UK. I saw it at 'The Radlett Centre' in Radlett, as it was only there for one night and it is very close to me. However, the tour continues throughout the country until May I believe.
The Sunday Times has said Stones in his Pockets is 'Sad, hilarious and irresistible' and I must say, I agree.
Being a Drama student I see quite a few plays, but this has really been a stand out one for me.
Set in a rural part of Ireland, County Kerry, we see how a small town is transformed by the arrival of a Hollywood film crew, shooting a big budget film, and using the locals as extras. Being paid £40 a day is a pretty big deal to these people, who generally appear to rely on farming as their income. So when this high budget film comes to town, everybody wants in on the action.
I know it doesn't sound the most interesting play, and at first I was slightly dubious. However, the most important and fascinating thing about this show is that all of the characters are performed by just two actors. Both actors have their main character each, but also manage to cleverly and believably portray 12 other characters between them. It really is fantastic.
Throughout the play there are many stereotypes which make the play all the more amusing. It plays up to the idea of the Irish drinking a lot, using different characters, and contrasts with 'Hollywood Actors' to show this. I also liked the fact that the play focuses on the extras and their lives rather than those of the actors, as it makes it more interesting to see how somebody else's fame and fortune can cause misery to another's life.
This play has a large mixture of both happy and sad moments. There is humour throughout, which makes the play appealing to everybody; however it is fairly poignant in places, and shows a darker side of Hollywood and changes in society.
The way in which only two actors manage to portray so many different characters is fascinating. I never expected it to be as clear as it was. As a friend of mine said, you almost expected 14 different actors to come onstage to bow at the end, as you genuinely believe there are more people than there are. The two actors which featured in the performance I saw were David Caves and Jack Reynolds. The range of accents which these two managed to pull off was astounding. They range from Irish to Scottish to American. Each accent is distinct, and there is never a sign of them struggling to change character. As both the actors are men, it is amusing to find that they both have to play women in the play! A usual technique would be ridiculous exaggeration and make-up. Not this time. These actors have no changes in costumes, no time to change anything except their movement, expression and voices, but despite this their changes in characters and distinct and pretty incredible. Changing between old grumpy men, children, women, locals and American directors and film stars looks like an incredibly challenging job, however I think it was done amazingly, and as I have heard, is every time it is performed.
Everything is mimed, and there is almost no set, with a chest being used for almost everything such as a bed, a table, a bar and more. The way it is used in so many different ways is very effective. The set consists of a large chest, a smaller box and two chairs as the main basics. The chest contains clothes, which they change very rarely, just to show when they are acting in the film, and when they are being normal people.
This play was written and first performed in the late 1990's. Despite this when watching you can see the relevance to the world now, and the way in which things change. I like the fact that is shows a darker side of fame and fortune in various places, but that it also shows the hope that people can have, and leaves you with a happy, hopeful message rather than leaving you depressed. Although when watching something so humorous, it would be difficult to come out upset!
I could ramble about this all day, but all I really need to say is that this is definitely worth watching! There are many things I want to say, but I don't want to ruin the story, just in case! Even if you are someone who thinks theatre is not for you, I would personally challenge you not to enjoy this. There is something for everyone, with humour, sadness and people doing Irish dancing! What more could you want?
Stones In His Pockets is a rare breed of play. Instead of trying to appeal to a select audience consisting of head scratching members too willing to over-intellectualise the 'hidden' meanings- within the narrative- the writer does the complete opposite. This play has universal appeal. If you have ever been put off going to watch a 'straight' play and always plumbed for musicals because you do not want to be bored for two hours- prepare to be surprised. Stones In His Pockets is the most fun you could have in a theatre and no head scratching or over analysing is required- I promise you! Imagine what would happen if a brash Hollywood film crew arrived in a village in Ireland to shoot a brand new blockbuster. You can imagine the clash of ideals and the chaos that would ensue. Hollywood divas, flamboyant press agents, big wig Hollywood directors commenting on how lovely Ireland is and the people who lived in the village getting trampelled on in the search for the perfect close up! Well, that is basically the premise of this ingenious play from writer, Marie Jones. The film being made is 'The Quiet Valley.' Parallells with The Quiet Man are quite deliberate. County Kerry the setting. Extras line the streets as work is hard to get. The Hollywood studio is offering extras £40 a day to hang around in the background as Hollywood's finest botch the 'Orish' accent and trample on the fields and metaphorically the people too. The local townsfolk welcome the Americans with open arms. After all- the publicity puts the small town on the global map and provides many of the villagers with work. But think back to films like "Far and Away" directed by Ron Howard and the ghastly news stories that followed. With a tight shooting schedule and egos the size of a large farmhouse- can you imagine that the extras here will be treated with care and respect? The narrative of this remarkable play works at a frantic pace.
There are many characters; the willing extras, the huge cast of actors, the director, the loyal assistants, and the bemused locals. So the stage is filled with lots of actors filling the shoes of this fictional film crew and the Irish community? Well, no. That's where the unique element of Stones In His Pockets comes into play. The cast is slightly smaller than you would imagine. Um... there are two people playing all of these roles! LLoyd Hutchinson and Kieran Lagan. With no flashy props, pyrotechnics, revolving stages and the like- the actors excel in all of their many guises which may remind you of Whose Line Is It Anyway but only better as these guys are working to a script which often involves talking to themselves! The main two characters are Charlie and Jake. These two extras long for something better from life. LLoyd Hutchinson excels as Charlie and relishes playing all of the other roles and you get the feeling that being in Stones In His Pockets must be an actor's dream. Kieran Lagan works really well with a huge variety of challenging characters. The chemistry between these two energetic actors is simply breath taking stuff and leaves you astounded on the way out of the theatre. Both actors have to play women. Now the obvious actor trick here is to over do every movement and end up playing the role like Dick Emery. But where these actors have done their homework is that less is actually more. Huthinson plays Hollywood diva Caroline and every toss of his head, and lift of his chin makes you believe that he is a she. You end up thinking how Jennifer Lopez would handle an Irish accent! All of this is without the aid of costumes. The pace of the play is too fast for endless prop or costume changes. Lagan plays an old extra who has worked on The Quiet Man. He contorts his face and makes the audience believe that he is in pain with a bad back. Both actors immerse themselves into their many roles and show you how magical theatre can be w
ithout special smoke filled effects. One of the funniest moments in the play are Caroline's many attempts at the Irish accent. I was reminded instantly of Tom Cruise hamming his way through Far and Away. This scene is so relevant to the central message of play - everyone ignores the advice of the extras- the real people of Ireland and would rather listen to a Hollywood exec. Think of how many times a favourite novel of yours has been turned into a film and runied by cod accents and a dodgy script. Stones In His Pockets provides you with this insight. During the second act the play takes a completely different turn. Much of the laughter is replaced by sadness as a local boy commits suicide. Again, subtly the play questions the Hollywood machine and the effects that a big movie company has on the small town inhabitants. But please do not think that this play is dour or banner waving and knocking America constantly. It does not. There is enough real humour oozing from the stage at every opportunity. The play seems to make fun more of the movie world than it does of America as a country. Stones In His Pockets is like a breath of fresh air. It has received no hype and continues to fill The Duke Of York Theatre in London through excellent word of mouth. It has won Oliver awards and received ecstatic reviews. But you really get a sense of this being a play for an appreciative audience rather than one for the critics which is truly refreshing in itself. If you love the hunmour of Father Ted, laugh and cry at James Nesbitt in Cold Feet and have a fascination with the inner workings of Hollywood and wonder how they can bodge stories like Captain Corelli's Mandolin and The Scarlett Letter - when essentially the stories are timeless then this delightful comedy gem is just the ticket for you. At the moment Stones In His Pockets is taking bookings until whenever and shows no signs leaving theatreland just yet. I
f you want more info- read on but if you are leaving now- bye Thanks for reading. Glenn MORE INFO _________ WHEN DID IT OPEN? ****************** *STONES IN HIS POCKETS OPENED ON 24 MAY 2000 and regularly has a 'full house' sign up outside the theatre. WHERE CAN YOU GET A TICKET? *************************** *You can buy tickets from www.ticketmaster.co.uk CAN I SEE IT OUTSIDE OF LONDON? ******************************* *The play is touring- first stop Birmingham. You can more info from www.whatsonstage.com Also it's coming to Manchester in Sept! IS IT ON IN AMERICA? ******************** *Following the events of Sept 11- Stones closed on Broadway. But it will tour America soon. HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS- ANY SPECIAL OFFERS? ****************************************** *Top ticket Prices are £29.50 but you can always try for a half price ticket at the Official Ticket Booth in the West End. Best availability is Mon, Tue, Wed (evening and matinee).