DramaReviewSouth East

Stones in his Pockets – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Writer: Marie Jones

Director: Lindsay Posner

Reviewer: Alice Fowler

Stones In His Pockets depicts a clash of cultures: what happens when rural Ireland and Hollywood come together on a film-set, somewhere on the Emerald Isle. Actors Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor put in bravura performances in this two-man show, playing everyone from bemused locals, roped in as extras, to the film’s breathless female lead.

There are laughs aplenty in this production, thanks to Sharpe and Trainor’s superb mimicry and seamless switching between characters. Beneath the humour lurks tragedy however, as a vulnerable young man, Sean – his dreams of America shattered – takes his own life. Must filming carry on regardless, as the director insists? Or should respect be paid to the boy, his grieving father and his community?

Writer Marie Jones shines a harsh light on the self-regard and myopia of an industry which sees Ireland merely as a film set: “they’ve used up most of the 40 shades of green by now”, as one extra wearily remarks. Designer Peter McKintosh’s simple set – blue sky, grass and an old stone wall – reinforces this one-dimensional view of Ireland and its history. Yet, as Jones makes clear, this nostalgic version is out of date, if it was ever true at all. The cows are vanishing, and with them the future of boys like Sean.

Stones In His Pockets was a huge hit when it premiered at the start of the century. Two decades on its message remains pertinent; if, at times, a trifle heavy-handed. By the play’s close, we are firmly on the side of the extras Jake and Charlie as they plan their own, more truthful picture of Irish life.

Runs until 29 June 2019 | Image: Nobby Clark

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