Review: Huddersfield Thespians: Stones in His Pockets
VENUE: Syngenta Cellar, Lawrence Batley Theatre, BY: William Marshall
THIS two-hander by Marie Jones starts as if it is a piece of whimsical Oirishry but rapidly acquires layers of complexity that are comic and dark, introducing themes such as depression, self-delusion, thwarted ambition, the nature of Irish society and the manner in which it is sentimentalised by Hollywood.
The play also provides a formidable challenge to the two performers.
Their core characters are Jake and Charlie, two losers who are working as extras on a big budget movie being shot in County Kerry.
But between them the actors personate some 10 other characters from a Hollywood starlet to a drug-addled teenager and an alcoholic old-timer whose claim to fame is that he is the last surviving extra from the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man.
The performers use accent switches, body language and some deft work with hats in order to turn on a sixpence between their cast of characters. There might have been some slight accent leakage at times, but in this production by Keith Royston, actors Daren Wild and Dean Robson perform with virtuosity and verve.
The result is that Stones in His Pockets – the title derives from a tragic incident that catalyses the plot – is the latest in a sequence of intense, exceptionally proficient productions staged by the Thespians in the cellar at the LBT.
The two actors are equally versatile but offer considerable contrasts, both physically and in their range of emotions. Dean Robson is the dreamier Jake and Daren Wild taps deep reserves of energy as the desperate Charlie. At times he is almost too shouty for the confines of the cellar, but when he relives his episodes of depression and confronts the truth about himself, the emotions are painfully raw.
Finally, the two men achieve potential redemption when, in the midst of a clichéd Hollywood version of Ireland, they conceive a much truer drama based on events around them.
Whether or not their movie will ever get made, who knows, but their moment of integrity and self-discovery is uplifting.
Stones In His Pockets continues each evening at 7.45pm until Saturday when there is also a matinee at 2pm.