Stones in His Pockets has more charm than politics, now on stage in Toronto
Written in the aftermath of the early-90s Irish film boom, Stones in His Pockets (now on stage at the Alumnae Theatre) is a big script in a little package, balancing broad parody of Irish stereotypes with a deeper tale about the colonial mentality, intergenerational poverty, and the Irish identity.
A film has come to town, and the locals are cast as extras, with two actors (Stephen Farrell & Mark Whelan) playing about 15-16 roles. After a local disaster brings all sorts of tensions to the surface, the people of the village begin to examine just what they’re selling to earn their 50 pounds a day.
You have to come into Stones expecting blarney: your enjoyment of the show will turn on how charming you find the cast and script. If you don’t take to this sort of stuff, you’re in for a rough night.
The good news is that, as an entertainment, there’s a lot on offer: several moments had audience members veritably pissing themselves, and the actors get a lot of oomph out of changing through their characters and scenes.
I thought the show could have been faster: it felt like the company could have easily carved 8-10 minutes off the runtime without cutting any lines, especially as a lot of the fussier business (precise gestures, physical re-arranging) doesn’t add very much.
I had also hoped it would go deeper than it does, and this is mostly a problem with the script. Leavening the drama with comedy is a fine technique, but for a play which aspires to be political and trenchant, the fact that people can walk away believing they’ve just seen a delightful light comedy about hijinx on a movie set is disappointing.
But if you’re content to take this as a cream puff — a comedy with some interesting points to raise, and a launching pad for other ideas and discussions — there’s a lot to like about Stones. As it happens, I do go in for blarney, and if you’re up to be charmed, you’ll love this little play.
- Stones in His Pockets plays through December 12th at the Alumnae Theatre. (70 Berkeley Street, near King and Parliament.)
- Performances are nightly Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 PM, with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
- Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students, seniors and arts workers. (ID required)
- Tickets can be purchased online or from the venue box office beginning one half-hour before all performances. Be advised that this is a fairly small venue, so advance purchase is recommended.
- Be aware that this venue is at the top of a very tall (approx. 4-storey) staircase, and that no elevator is available. The staircase is indoors and has sturdy handrails.