Stones In His Pockets

Inspired by cinematic stylings similar to the likes of Wes Anderson, and with newly composed music by David Barton, the east coast is in for a treat with this one!

Stones In His Pockets is about a rural village in Ireland where many of the townspeople are extras in a Hollywood film. The story centres around two young chaps - Charlie (Lórcan Strain) and Jake (Cathan Ryan) who are part of the background cast and meet for the first time on set. It feels a shame to discuss the key moment in the play as it seems more like a spoiler than description, so although the title of this play really doesn’t tell you much, this is in fact addressed later on and makes for a really great circular narrative. 

Marie Jones has written a masterfully character-focused plotline which demands the 15 roles of all ages and genders be played by the only two actors on stage. Here is where you learn the sensibility of creating a show without specific costume requirements, as Strain and Ryan are in and out of different clothes in nearly every scene. The regularity of these changes didn’t detract from the piece at all thanks to Amy Watts’ designs, however they were occasionally a little too elongated. On the other hand, these times were used as an excuse to envelop us with the transporting and transformative sound of classic Irish tunes - flutes and fiddles at the forefront - so really you can’t complain. 

Technical departments like lighting and video projection were standout elements of the evening, and you have to admire the artistry in both the concept and product you get to see. These were what added a sense of meta, and made the play more than a story, but a living idea that the audience can take away with them. 

Running at just over an hour per act, the show is never lacking in pace but sometimes feels lacking in depth. For such an emotional piece, and with multi-talented actors at the helm, there are a few occasions where the space just feels a little too empty. This could be partially to do with the venue - the John Peel Centre for Arts in Stowmarket - but for a touring show this is a risky move to make as each theatre then presents as having a different production value. As much as the building isn’t intrinsically linked to the show itself, the audience experience begins before even entering the auditorium so it does have to be considered when allocating star ratings and recommendations. 

Given that previous runs of the play have been so successful in the capital cities of Scotland, England and its birthplace of Dublin, Ireland, it clearly is a fantastic piece with real promise and possibilities - perhaps this specific iteration just needs a little more in the way of wow factor. 

Toe-tapping and tragic in respectful measures, this is a great opportunity to support high quality local theatre. Eastern Angles Theatre Company once again prove that smaller organisations are just as capable of achieving industry standard shows as those currently gracing a West End stage. 

This show was reviewed on the 15th March 2024 at the John Peel Centre for Arts, Stowmarket.  The full tour schedule can be found here: Stones In His Pockets | Eastern Angles

Review written by Katie McConnell

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