Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Stones in His Pockets" - July 2012

I guess it's somewhat appropriate that a show that sees two actors inhabit 15 characters and has a significant change of tone between acts, has left me struggling with my own split personality. One part of me was happy to be swept along by two phenomenal performances from Keith Fleming and Robbie Jack who have taken a lightning change act to a whole new level. We've become used to seeing plays cut down or restaged to accomodate small casts, although the performances almost always involve a brief pause between characters, an additional prop or a quick exit/entrance. But here Fleming and Jack often morph seamlessly right in front of your eyes. The problem is that another part of me, while appreciating the skill involved, sees it as a way of covering over what is at times rather weak material.

In fact, the first half of the show left me pretty cold and feeling that it was over-reliant on the inherent amusement value of the performance style. I couldn't help thinking that had it been played with a 'full' cast I'm not sure I would have even broken into a smile. And that's the 'comic' half of the show. It's disappointing, as a show based on the events when a Hollywood production descends on a rural Irish community should be ripe for comic scenes more than capable of standing on their own merits.

Fortunately, I found myself enjoying the second act significantly more. It wasn't that it was funnier, but perhaps the more serious tone to it made for a more even script where I was no longer expecting to be laughing out loud. It also finally managed to generate a level of interest that I'd been previously missing as the balance of power shifted between film-makers and the extras.  But even in its best moments I found the play frustrating in its simplistic treatment of drug use, one sided stance on cultural exploitation and use of media in-jokes and caricatures.

The performances will make or break any production of Marie Jones' play and Fleming and Jack make the absolute most out of it - their curtain call alone makes it worth seeing.

We received our tickets for the show through our membership of the Tron's Patrons scheme which we thoroughly recommend for anyone who is a regular attendee at the Tron.

Stones in His Pockets runs at the Tron until 21st July
Image by John Johnston used with permission