note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
Bang the drum. Raise a glass. Let the celebrating begin. There’s a new Irish theater company in town! Most of us are still mourning the loss of the Sugan Theatre and we were beginning to think we would have to do without. But TIR NA has leaped onto the scene with a flourish. Their dazzling production of Marie Jones’ STONES IN HIS POCKETS will set a high standard for the new company.
Jones’ delightful send-up of location movie making is rumored to be based on the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman vehicle, FAR AND AWAY. In STONES, just about everyone in this sleepy little Irish town wants in on the Hollywood experience. What makes STONES remarkable is the cast. Place two actors in front of an azure sky and let ‘em rip. The two impersonate extras, crew, stars, directors and town folk, male and female---at the drop of a hat, with the turn of a head or a shift in body weight. The trick is a tour de force for two talented actors and Colin Hamell and Derry Woodhouse deliver in spades!
The two manage to multiply themselves right in front of our eyes. Hamell gracefully centers his chi with lithe fingers curled to his thumbs and we know he’s the haughty star of the movie. Then his soulful eyes droop and he’s the sad sack buddy of Woodhouse’s hopped up dreamer. Then Woodhouse stoops a bit off kilter and we recognize the curmudgeon who claims to be the “oldest living extra from John Wayne’s THE QUIET MAN.” In addition to the hilariously colorful characters they inhabit, Hamell and Woodhouse get some touching moments, as well. The key to the characterizations lies in their individual rhythm and these actors play them like virtuosi.
Director George C. Heslin gets extra mileage from many of the bits…like the marvelous “jubilation scene” where the movie director wants, and gets, a frenetic stereotype of step dancing. Heslin tweaks the movements so shamelessly, I’m still giggling days later.
Becksara Fracormack’s gorgeous billowing (or could they be ‘bellowing’) clouds are luminously lit by Amy Lee. Marry the backdrop to Tino Alvarez Casado’s clever soundtrack and we’re transported to Ireland for a grand evening of sheer merriment.