Friday, March 24, 2017

STONES IN HIS POCKETS



Written by Marie Jones
Directed by Chris Bendall
A Critical Stages production
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to March 25

Review by Len Power 23 March 2017

‘Stones In His Pockets’ by Marie Jones has been around since 1994.  It played successfully in London’s West End for three years and had a 198 performance run on Broadway in 2001 as well as productions in Australia.  With the success of similar plays like ‘The 39 Steps’ and ‘Peter And The Star Catcher’ in recent years, it’s not surprising that it’s back again.

The play tells a story of a quiet Irish community dealing with the impact of a Hollywood movie shoot in their town.  Working as extras on the film, two local lads find themselves involved with the Hollywood star and a director who has his own ideas of genuine Irish local colour.  How the various people involved react to a tragedy that occurs adds a serious note to the show.

The fifteen characters in the play are all played by two actors, Grant Cartwright and Sean Hawkins.  Playing everything from the two local lads employed as extras to the female Hollywood star and various members of the film crew and other folk who live in the town, the actors give excellent performances with nicely drawn character work as well as genuine-sounding accents.  They handle high speed changes adeptly and have a great sense of timing for the humorous aspects of the script.

The set, designed by Dann Barber, is attractive and functional and the lighting design by Alexander Berlage is excellent.  Full marks, too, to the lighting operators at the Q.  The lighting cues come thick and fast and were accurately done.   Costume design by Michael Hill was imaginative with effective suggestions of costume for some characters working very well.  Sound design by Nate Edmondson added a fine atmosphere to the show.

Director, Chris Bendall, has staged the show very well, keeping it moving at a frenetic pace and giving the actors clever and imaginative ways to make their fast changes.  His work with the actors has ensured that the characters are clearly delineated, an essential requirement for this show.

The main interest in a show like this is in watching how the actors perform it.  As a result it’s not easy to feel any real involvement in the story.  The show works best when it’s being funny.  When the tragedy occurs during the show it doesn’t have the impact it might have had in a straightforward telling.  Nevertheless, the audience clearly had a good time watching this and the performances of these two strong actors are very enjoyable.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program (9am Saturdays) and ‘Dress Circle’ (3.30pm Mondays).

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