"People don't go to the cinema to be depressed. That's what theatre is for," Hollywood film director Clem announces in this hit Irish comedy. Poignant? Yes. Bittersweet? Certainly. But no one could accuse Marie Jones' play about the impact of a Hollywood film crew on a small Irish village as depressing.
Having already won numerous awards for comedy and production, Stones in His Pockets is now touring the UK, featuring Malcolm Adams and Hugh Lee as Charlie and Jake respectively, two Irish extras working for £40 a day on the film.
The arrival of the crew, making a movie called The Quiet Valley, in a village in County Kerry brings excitement and upheaval to the locals. But what legacy will they leave behind?
Both actors, under the direction of Ian McElhinney, turn in sterling performances. As Charlie and Jake, they are likeable and recognisable blokes, but when they transform with a flick of the head or a pursing of the lips to become a different person, their talent for astute characterisation really shines through.
Both, strangely, are at their best when playing women. Adams takes on Caroline, the American star of the movie trying desperately to capture an Irish accent and proving the catalyst for the impending tragedy of the story; Lee is the flirty production assistant Aisling, with a crush on her boss and a giggly disposition.
Between them, these actors populate the stage with some 15 characters, including a drug dealer, English dialect coach, crippled OAP and beefy minder, employing little more than a trunk on wheels and a row of shoes to aid their transformations and scene changes.
Jones' story is amusing with a nice touch of pathos, and although it does tend to lack pace in the first half, Act Two zips along at breathtaking speed - not least the frantic Irish dancing session and a curtain call of most of the main characters!
- Elizabeth Ferrie (reviewed at Birmingham Rep)