Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Stones in His Pockets"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Larry Stark

"Stones in His Pockets"

by Marie Jones
Directed by Leigh Berry

Assistant Director & Choreographer Jessie Olson
Co-Producers Susan Harrington & Michelle Aguillon
Set Design by Leigh Berry, Jessie Olson, Kristin Hughes
Lighting Design by Jeremy Medicus
Costume Design by Kristin Perry
Dialect Coach & Dramaturg Mark Usher
Stage Manager Tracy Sulivan

Charlie Conlon & Others......Michael Sean Corbett
Jake Quinn & Others................Bill Stambaugh

There are two faces to the lovely green coin that is Ireland --- almost like the two masks of Comedy and Tragedy that mean theater. "Stones in His Pockets" by Marie Jones uses two men to bring alive uncounted dozens of snapshot characters --- the local Irish in a seaside town so small everyone knows everyone and most of them are related of course, but invading Americans as well making a filum for which they can pay locals forty bloody pounds a day to be crowds of extras. Michael Sean Corbett with his round Irish grin and Bill Stambaugh with a pinched, brooding scowl, play a sort of commenting chorus, Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, but one'll slip round the other and maybe re-adjust his porkpie hat and simply Become someone else. Magic it is. But that's only one of the two's in this riotously funny, insightful, heart-touching play.

At the bottom of these characters is an eager enjoyment of being, for a brief time, part of the glamorous Hollywood life, along with a smoldering resentment of stars and extra-wranglers who act as if they've bought the lot of these peat-diggers, and will drop them back into their dwindling hopes and shrinking herds of cows when the shoots are all wrapped. Maybe its everyone's dream to get started in filums, to get a face the camera loves a line or three, or to have the director --- or someone --- read the script always tucked hopefully in an inside pocket. But there's been many a part-time poet still milkin and muckin-out across Ireland has nothin but memories of their dreams, and of their faces in crowds for a few seconds in "The Quiet Man" or somesuch, and sometimes the glittering dream, turned to acid and dross can, well, can kill. I mean, act Two is really all about a funeral, about will the over-generous visitors delay a day's shooting so an ingrown town can bury a casualty of this conflict that's in all their souls.

Just be warned that all the fun and roll-in-the-aisles Irish humor lilting through Act One shows its dark side in Act Two. But, perchance unlike real life, hope springs eternal as the Pope said, and when these two mates get their lives and their town back again, there's a gleam of happy-ending at the final chorus --- at least of a sort. Ya gotta see it to find out, for I'm done shooin yez over to Waltham's Hovey Players for the experience.

Oh and one thing else. The script is lovely and the cast --- all multiple dozens of both of them --- excellent, but the pair are never alone what with all the designers and crew and set-builders' work you probably won't notice, but is there. And, like any good show, you'll come away wipin a tear and gigglin over lines, but remember also it must have been well-directed. The lady what done that, Leigh Berry, is surprisingly good doin her first full-length play. If ya run into her, tell her I said hello, will ye?

( a k a larry stark)

"Stones in His Pockets" (11 - 26 January)
@ Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9Spring Street @ Joel's Way, WALTHAM MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide