Stones in His Pockets at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
I do hope that the actors in what has become a classic can lie down in a darkened room after each performance, for theirs is a whirlwind tour de force when, in a turn on a heel they become several different characters… of both genders!

Since making its debut in 1996, Marie Jones’ tragi-comedy has won several awards, but every actor who undertakes this two-hander should be rewarded.

Set in County Kerry, an American film company has taken over a village… and the villagers, for most of them are being paid £40 a day as extras.

On the surface it’s full of that inimitable humour for which the Irish are famous. Friends Jake and Charlie cast a wry eye on the film crew, including the director, plus the leading lady, Hollywood actress Caroline Giovanni, who have a romanticised view of Ireland and its accents, and are getting it all wrong. Then things go from comedy to tragedy when a local teenager commits suicide, drowning himself with stones in his pockets, after being humiliated by the actress in front of his neighbours.

For those of us fascinated by all forms of performance it’s an interesting insight into film-making - whether or not it is wholly true to life - and the affect it can have on a rural community. And it’s all credit to the writer, director Lindsay Posner and designers Peter McIntosh (set and costume), Howard Harrison (lighting) and Paul Groothuis (sound), not to mention Owen Sharpe as Jake and Kevin Trainor as Charlie, that we are transported to a film set in Ireland with the minimum of props. Just a square of mossy land, a few tufts of grass and a tumbledown stone wall, with a wide open sky, took me right back to a recent visit to Ireland where, incidentally, I was staying close to that country’s major film studios in Bray, County Wicklow (only a full-on conference in a nearby hotel stopped me from decamping at the studio gates!).

But the performances of Sharpe, as Jake, and Trainor as Charlie, are the most memorable. Sharpe is at times almost like a little leprechaun as he switches from the cynical Jake to old Micky to the doomed teenager high on drugs. And he is at his funniest as production assistant Ashleigh, though for most of the evening I wasn’t sure whether it was a highly camp Ashley! Trainor, on the other hand, is more solid, playing posh English and American, though the highlight of his performance is as the sexy Hollywood actress!
Photo: Nobby Clarke

Stones in His Pockets is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Apr 6.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
It then continues touring:
Apr 8-13: Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Apr 15-20: Grand Opera House, Belfast
Apr 22-27: Malvern Theatres, Malvern
May 13-18: Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Jun 24-29: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Jul 15-20: Darlington Hippodrome, Darlington
Jul 22-27: Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Jul 29-Aug 3: Theatre Royal, Brighton