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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Stones In His Pocket
Set in the present in a small village in County Kerry, Ireland, the action revolves around the reactions of the locals to the "invasion" of a Hollywood production company. There to make a costume epic, not unlike John Ford’s The Quiet Man, (if one follows the dropped clues), the visiting company is filled with cliched types — arrogant assistants, a moody director, and a temperamental diva as leading lady. A send up of Hollywood as well as an affectionate, if stereotypical look at the Irish, “i>Stones”mines far too much familiar terrain. Fred Arsenault is Jake Quinn and Euan Morton plays Charlie Colon, two locals, hired as extras for the film — along with most of the others in the village. Giddy with the extra money, free food and the chance to mingle with Hollywood “swells” Jake and Charlie begin to dream of a life beyond their current means. Charlie has written a script which he believes will be his ticket out of the village, while Jake becomes infatuated with Caroline Giovanni, the movie‘s tempestuous leading lady.
Their dreams are darkened when Sean, one of their buddies, disillusioned with life after witnessing the excesses of the outsiders, drowns himself by filling his pocket with stones and walking into the river. His death is supposed to represent the contrast between irrational hopes and the reality of life.
All this may sound a bit over dramatic, but for the most part the play concentrates on letting Jake and Charlie spin the blarney for laughs and for Arsenault and Morton to show off their acting skills. And that they do — inventively.
I think audiences are well past being amused seeing gender switching by actors, so Morton’s rather campy version of “Miss Giovanni” and Arsenault’s limp wristed Aisling, a female assistant director, (who at first glimpse suggests a very effeminate man) are not exactly acting breakthroughs. What is commendable is the speed with which they move in and out of one character and into another and the nuances with which they infuse each of their seven roles. They make it easy to identify who is who - which in exercises like this can sometimes get confusing.
Evan Yionoulis has directed with an obvious fondness for the work and she’s drawn exemplary performances from her two-man cast. She’s ably abetted by the set design of Edward T. Morris which uses a slope of Astroturf, a couple of mounds of baled hay to represent everything from a pub bar to an “actor’s trailer.” Nikki Delhomme’s costumes keep the looks muted and Matt Otto’s sound adds neat musical touches. The duo does get to give a go at a bit of step dancing, a la Riverdance style.
It takes two to tango and sometimes two mind sets to review a play. As a critic I find Gertrude Stein, “when you get there, there’s no there, there ” fits the often obvious and prententious story. However, for a non-mission driven theatergoer, this is a cheery enough way to spend a few hours.
Editor's Note: In New York, Ms. Jones's first play, Airswimming is enjoying an extended run at the Irish Rep. To read Curtainup's review, click here. To read about our various earlier encounters with Stones In His Pocket go here.