Stones in His Pockets
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
“Stones in His Pockets” takes place in Ireland and if you know the Irish and its storytellers, the title can take on several meanings. In short, the play is about what happens when an American film company decides to invade a small, Irish town in order to make a movie called “Quiet Valley” -- a pun on “The Quiet Man” film featuring John Wayne.
One might ask if the “stones” in the plays title represent the events that proceed to weigh down the community, or are they meant to be a gathering of “clever words” -- pebbles to be thrown at the intruders and their pretentious values? The meaning is subjective. However, what is really interesting about this work is that it’s rendered by just two, very gifted actors/storytellers, Fred Arsenault and Euan Morton. Under the careful direction of Evan Yionoulis, each performer plays several male and female roles. These changes are accomplished so smoothly that it seems like a cast of dozens are making split-second scene entrances.
The flavor of the Irish people has definitely been captured here but the novelty of the quick changes of characters can become tiresome. The play is 90-minutes long including one intermission, whereas one act would have been enough. While “Stones in His Pockets” won London’s Olivier Award for Best Comedy, some clever phrases are unfortunately lost to American audiences -- despite the program notes.
If you’ve ever been to County Kerry -- the area where this play by Irish writer, Marie Jones, takes place, you might agree that the friendliest, most natural people you have ever met live here. They mirror the landscape they live in. Some parts of the county are rough and rocky, while its green, sweeping hills are as beautiful and unspoiled as a fairytale picture book. County Kerry and its folks have both aspects to their characters. Step into any pub and what you see is what you get -- a great big welcome plus lots of conversation and free advice. The climate may be damp and cold but there’s a warm feeling of belonging -- even if a resident inquires, “...and you’re not Irish from your head to your toes?” “It’s just our names that sound Irish,” we explain, “...and my husband’s first name is Ira, which does not stand for the I.R.A.” And, the whole room rocks with laughter as we break into a rebel song. If you listen carefully, it’s the lighthearted yet spirited flavor of the Irish people that the play imparts.
The audience at Yale Rep was packed with folks who seemed to appreciate “Stones in His Pockets” -- a quick-witted taste of Irish humor along with a twirl and a bit of a jig thrown in.
Plays to Feb 16