Stones in His Pockets has had to cancel its press performance this evening (Monday 6 November 2006) at the West End’s Duchess Theatre, after one of the two-hander’s stars, Hugh Lee, contracted a viral illness.

A spokeswoman told today that Lee fell ill on Friday. With Lee laid low, his co-star Simon Delaney was also unable to appear as the piece, in which two actors play down-and-outs Jake Quinn (Lee) and Charlie Conlin (Delaney) as well as myriad other characters between them, is rehearsed and performed in tandem. Both Lee and Delaney have previously starred in Stones in His Pockets in the West End and on tour in Ireland.

As a result of Lee’s illness, the alternate cast of John Cronin and Conrad Kemp stepped in for Friday evening and both matinee and evening performances on Saturday. Tonight’s performance has been cancelled in full. Cronin and Kemp will be back on stage from tomorrow until Lee has recovered, at which time producers hope to reschedule the press performance.

Marie Jones’ bittersweet two-hander, which follows what happens when a Hollywood film crew moves in on a small Irish village, started life at Belfast's Lyric Theatre in April 1999 before steamrolling on to success in Dublin and Edinburgh. It was first seen in London at the Tricycle Theatre before transferring to the New Ambassadors Theatre in May 2000 and then on to the Duke of York's in August 2000. In July 2003, it moved back to the New Ambassadors where, after more extensions, it finally finished on 15 May 2004.

Stones in His Pockets’ many awards include the, Olivier and Evening Standard awards for Best Comedy . Original cast member Conleth Hill (who co-starred with Sean Campion) was also named Best Actor in the Irish Times, Olivier and Awards. In addition to extensive UK and international tours, Stones in His Pockets has been mounted on Broadway, been translated into 16 languages and been performed in more than 20 countries around the globe.

The current London production is directed by David Bownes, following the original direction of Ian McElhinney, and designed by Jack Kirwan and lighting by James C McFetridge. It’s produced by Paul Elliott and Pat Moylan.

- by Terri Paddock