Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Capture the eternal qualities that still prevail today

Stones in his Pockets

Theatre Royal Bath Productions & Rose Theatre Kingston , New Theatre Cardiff , June 13, 2019
Stones in his Pockets by Theatre Royal Bath Productions & Rose Theatre Kingston Stones in his Pockets is certainly familiar to praise. With awards, West End runs and critical acclaim, surprisingly this run to Cardiff has seen half of its performances slashed. The opportunity to see this popular play was a must for me, even after compromising on a different day to see it.

Stones in his Pockets is a show for anyone who has ever been an extra, or background artist as we would say today. The boom in Celtic countries getting opportunities from Hollywood productions, has only ever increased the past few decades. We all know they crave those rugged landscapes, charming locals and (most likely) cheaper rates then England. Here, the play captures brilliantly a crew trying in vain to make a blockbuster in rural Ireland, thanks to the valiant efforts of a community coming together and obviously not just for the pay cheque. But when a local kills himself, the whole production is put into jeopardy due to a clash with the young man’s funeral. Will they pay their respects or continue the film?

The show is only as good as the two performers in it. Here Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor whip up a plethora of characters, though mostly settled in the leads role of Jake and Charlie. The two of them demonstrate to us locals and the cast and crew, with break neck speed. The energy and style is often enticing, while the odd characterisation might wain at times. Sharpe is a nasal, silver fox with passion and knees that never seem to mind being bent so much. His main role Jake had moved to New York to see the world, though his return home was purely due to homesickness. Sharpe has dark eyes that sparkle and his frequent mincing around the stage as a female production assistant, is often amusing. Trainor as Charlie is filled with quick wit and roguish charm. Some of his one liners are delivered well and some insults also stick. His tackling of the American actress Caroline Giovanni, is a sexy and raspy attempt of being a screen diva which he does with aplomb.

The script by Marie Jones feels a bit worn now. Through all the vitality of the acting, there just was something lacking here at times. Maybe we look at work like this differently now that Extras by Ricky Gervais has graced our screens: we still crave more twisted perceptions on this profession. The suicide here is handled in an odd way, at first a form of protest from the locals and how paying respect is more important than the film itself. It later becomes a film pitch on the boy’s life, his downfall and how he choose to end it all. Thus we are given the name of the show as the name of the movie pitch (he choose to drown himself), though not without a few tweaks to the story by the Americans, of course.

Whilst the piece feels like a time capsule for the era it was written, it does capture the eternal qualities that still prevail today when filming on location.

Reviewed by: Weeping Tudor

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