My last theatre trip of the year, and so my last theatre review on this blog, is to the Tricycle's new production of Marie Jones' Stones in his Pockets
. In a once-thriving farming village in Kerry, now in financial straits, a Hollywood film arrives and takes over the locals' lives. The story's told from the perspective of two local men who meet and become friends while working as extras for €80 a day: Optimistic Charlie, and increasingly angry and disillusioned Jake. The two take on all the other characters as well, so Owen McDonnell as Jake is also, among others, an elderly veteran extra of The Quiet Man
and local teenage druggie Sean; Jamie Beamish (last seen as an Elvis-impersonating Launcelot Gobbo at the RSC) as Charlie is the movie's flirtatious female lead and its Michael Winner-like director.
Jones asked the venue's incoming artistic director, Indhu Rubasingham, for a darker take on a play sometimes interpreted as mainly comic, and the crux of the story is when Sean commits suicide halfway through filming. The extras, many of whom, including Jake, knew or were related to the dead boy, come up against the Hollywood machine when they want to attend the funeral. I saw the original production in the West End, and it only seems to have been subsequent productions that Jones felt missed the point, so though it was while ago this felt like the show I'd seen then, its mood pretty much equally balanced between the tragic and comic sides. The look at broken dreams is suitably poignant, but the energetic duo don't fail to bring to life the comic possibilities of their multiple roles. And while the play sends up Hollywoodised "Oirish" tropes, it's not above using a few of them itself. It's not a show to have you rolling in the aisles from start to finish but nor is it without hope, this new version of Stones in his Pockets
pretty much strikes the tone it's aiming for.Stones in his Pockets
by Marie Jones is booking until the 4th of February at the Tricycle Theatre.