Stones in His Pockets

Marie Jones
Eastern Angles
Kirton Village Hall

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Cathal Ryan & Locan Strain Credit: Mike Kwasniak
Stones in His Pockets Credit: Mike Kwasniak
Stones In His Pockets Credit: Mike Kwasniak

Under new Artistic Director Jake Smith, Eastern Angles' spring tour this year is a 1996 award-winning Marie Jones play about rural Ireland.

This may seem quite a departure from their usual new writing productions firmly based in the annals of East Anglian history, but it has a lot to say about the aspirations of rural communities in general and of young people in particular and the changes and decline of the farming way of life that has left so many rather lost and rootless and landowners trying to find other uses for their acres.

And although this play is over 25 years old, with the recent filming of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, it's back on trend, as it looks at a small Irish village community being turned upside down by the arrival of a Hollywood film crew.

It’s also very cleverly structured in that two actors play all the characters involved in the production with barely a change of costume—quite a task for both performers and audience alike.

The plot follows two main protagonists—Jake (Cathal Ryan) and Charlie (Lorcan Strain)—as they play extras on the film set of a potential Hollywood blockbuster and interact with myriad other characters including fellow extras, directors and cameramen, minders and canteen crew. Charlie has aspirations as a writer and is hoping to get someone to look at his recently completed first draft script. Jake has just got back home after travelling and is trying to find his place in the world.

Both are mesmerised by the lead actress on the film—Caroline—and vie for her attention. She has little acting ability but as the ‘star’ is feted wherever she goes. But Jake finds to his cost that becoming involved with her is not all it’s cracked up to be, and her presence in the small village creates ripples that end in tragedy.

This is a fast-paced production where, as an audience, you have to keep your wits about you. The two actors both give it a lot of energy and are excellent at changing character with just a swing round of a hat or a different stance. This does mean at times it’s a little hard to follow, and it would have been nice—especially for the female characters—for them to have donned a scarf or glasses to more easily denote a particular character.

A screen background sets the scenes well with line drawings of where we are, and there is nice use of sound and music to cement that.

There’s plenty of humour as well as poignancy, and the story fair rattles along to its heart-warming and hopeful conclusion.

A good choice of production—well acted and directed—that is certainly worth an evening out.

Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes

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