A Hollywood film crew comes to a quaint, picturesque Irish village in County Kerry. You only need to visualise that scene and you can probably guess the comic-tragic-romantic-philosophical beats of Stones In His Pockets, a play by Marie Jones being staged at the Riverside Theatre.
Set in the 1990s, the play references real social hardships that were affecting society at the time, melding sombreness with boisterous, indifferent humour the way only the Irish can. There are clashes and rivalry between the townsfolk and the film crew and amongst themselves. There is also a teasing romance, tested friendships and, at the midway point, a dark, defining incident that ripples through the town, touching each character.
Though there are sixteen characters, the play is written for only two actors. Director, Chris Bendall insists that having two actors share sixteen roles between them adds to the enjoyment of the show.
“They have to change characters in almost a split second and that can be tremendous fun for the audience.”
For Bendall there’s also a thrill in the creative challenge of a limited cast.
“I love watching an actor pushed to the limit,” he says. That’s not an understatement. Not only do the actors (Grant Cartwright and Sean Hawkins) play characters of different ages and different genders but they are also required to learn several accents.
“This is an accent coach’s dream!” Bendall quotes his accent coach as saying.
To accommodate rapid changes in scene, the stage set is minimal
“Our set designer, Dan Barber, has created a beautiful scenic backdrop…basically it feels like you’re on a film set. There’s a couple of film road cases, some lights, and there’s a few props, and there’s also some director’s chairs.”
As for when and where, that’s answered via an Irish 1990s pop music soundtrack (think The Cranberrys).
Mar 18, 2:15pm & 7:30pm. Riverside Theatre, Corner Church and Market St, Parramatta. $28-$52+BF. Tickets & Info: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
NB: If this play raises any issue for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
By Rita Bratovich.