SMALL THEATRE THAT DELIVERS: STONES IN HIS POCKETS
Directed by Kathi E. B. Ellis
Entire contents are copyright © 2011, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Belfast playwright Marie Jones,
author of Stones in His Pockets.
Stones in His Pockets is a beautiful piece of material. It could be a short story; it could be a film; it could be a poem; and in a curious way, it is all of those things: literary yet succinct, cinematic in its structure, and lyrical in its tone. Formally, it is a play written for two actors to perform, together essaying fifteen separate characters involved in a movie being filmed in County Kerry, Ireland. The focus is primarily on two local men hired as extras, Charlie (Lee Look) and Jake (Doug Sumey), but two assistant directors, various other locals, the film’s English director and the American movie star, Caroline Giovanni, all make appearances.
The script is lean and economical, clocking in at 90 minutes with an intermission. But the fact that the two actors are required to make rapid changes in character, mood and temperament, at first, makes it seem complicated. There are no costume changes save for some business with hats; and for the first several transitions I was worried the characters would not be made sufficiently distinct from each other. But by the end of the first act, the quicksilver work of the two performers effectively delineated each personage clearly enough, and the developing narrative was engrossing.
There is a good deal of gentle humor of the kind that provokes a smile and promotes understanding of the people being portrayed, but the plot takes a tragic turn that is handled with great subtlety and absolutely no exploitation. Ending quietly, the play makes its point and leaves it at that. It carefully observes these people, contrasting the reaction of the native Irish against the “Hollywood” types without relying entirely on stereotypes.
The simple, low-key story nevertheless provides an opportunity for tour-de-force acting from the two actors. Mr. Look and Mr. Sumey deliver detailed and intimate work, drawing the audience deeper and deeper into the story and never losing the integrity of the tale, even when stepping into the shoes of female characters. The accents sounded fine to this untrained ear; and the largely soft-spoken delivery seemed appropriate to the material, even if the slight echo from the high, cavernous ceilings was a challenge.
It is material well suited to ShoeString Productions: simple and stark, with a director and two actors working in close-knit collaboration to produce a rich and engaging piece of theatre. The production runs this weekend and picks up again after Christmas – one of the few choices available for theatre-goers during the holiday down time.
December 15, 16, 17, 29, 30 & January 1. All shows at 7:30.
Tickets, $15 in advance, $18 at the door
Students $12, Seniors $15
Shoestring Productions at
1205 East Washington Street