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Stones in His Pocket - Barn Theatre Review

The award winning comedy, Stones in His Pockets, is playing in it's 25th anniversary production at The Barn Theatre in Cirencester.

The two hander by Marie Jones is well revived helmed by director Matthew McElhinney. It tells the story of two local lads in rural Ireland whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a Hollywood studio to film their latest blockbuster. Told through the lads eyes they soon realise that Hollywood's romanticised dream of Ireland is a long way from reality.

Photo by Danny Kaan.

The hilarity is there from the start, the only line of cutting the fog because "this isn't Phantom of the Opera" brings an early roar of laughter. The opening sequence sees the breaking of the fourth wall with the runners jumping of stage to inspect the films extras for the day right from the opening sequence with the two film hands checking on the extras, exclaims of "that's not very period" and "grab some dirt of the floor and rub it on your face" really get the audience involved.

Shaun Blaney and Gerard McCabe seamlessly switch between multiple characters, both playing a myriad of colour people from director to leading lady. They capture the roles with excellent comic timing and high energy - especially as the switch between roles happen so fast. 

Their main roles are Jake Quinn (played by Blaney) and Charlie Conlon (played by McCabe), both play extras in the film which is being led by two well known American stars. Charlie is a hopeful writer and Jake his cynical friend. As the play moves on through it's clear how the 'American  Dream' isn't exactly what they dreamed it would be. That message of lost hope or broken dreams runs throughout Jones' play. 

Photo by Danny Kaan.

The plot twists and turns with the varied characters but really hits home towards the end of act one when troubled teenager Sean Harkin is banned from the movie set after attempting to talk to the films leading stars, he subsequently fills his pockets with stones and drowns himself. 

The design by Gregor Donnelly combines great use of props including multiple travel cases but the crowning designing glory is the use of the video projection on the backdrop which easily distinguishes the location for each scene. The piece is beautifully lit by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner's lighting design.

Rating: ★★★★ - fast paced tragicomedy with two brilliant energetic performances.

Stones in His Pockets runs at Barn Theatre until August 22nd 2021. Visit to book.

Photo by Danny Kaan.

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