REVIEW: Stones in his Pockets at Cambridge Arts Theatre a glimpse into the lives of film extras

PUBLISHED: 08:17 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:17 28 May 2019

The Stones in His Pockets is at Cambridge Arts Theatre

The Stones in His Pockets is at Cambridge Arts Theatre


Two actors play 15 parts in the story of when Hollywood arrives in rural Ireland

Stones in his Pockets tells a tale of when Hollywood sets itself up in Ireland to film.

Landmark movies have been shot in Ireland: The Quiet Man in 1952, Braveheart in 1995 (when the play was written) and since then, Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Star Wars The Last Jedi and of course, Game of Thrones.

The play explores the roles of the extras, seasoned and new, and the contrasting interests of those whose careers and investments depend on the movie and the local people who have their lives impacted on or who are hired for £40 a day.

The play is a two-hander. Two actors have to play 15 parts including men, women, the film crew, a film star, a youth and two children.

This is difficult to achieve. Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor, who engage us entirely as the extras Jake and Charlie, don't seem to believe in the other characters as much as they believe in these two.

So what we get is Jake and Charlie playing all the others - and telling the story to each other rather than Sharpe and Trainor actually becoming all the characters in the play.

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Sharpe's young woman assistant director Aishling is so camp, I thought at first she was a stereotype of a gay man. Women do walk differently from men, but they don't mince.

The story centres on a young drug victim from the village who drowns himself by filling his pockets with stones.

The other locals are distraught and there is tension when the director hesitates before allowing them to stop filming so they can attend the funeral - the flowers meant for the wedding scene, now delayed because of the funeral, will be sent to the church instead.

Apparently, the humililation that drove the young man to his death was when the Hollywood star, Caroline has had the young man thrown out of his local pub after he approached her, all the worse for drugs.

The play was only written two decades ago but today the story seems tired. They play treats the young men in rural Ireland in the second half of the 20th century as just as hopelessly desperate to leave as Chekhov's Three Sisters wanting to go to Moscow. This is not ground-breaking stuff.

But the story is laced with humour which the audience appreciated.

Stones in His Pockets is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, June 1.

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