Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: Stones In His Pockets At The Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 26 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 26 Jun, 2019

by Ferenc Hepp

Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Rose Theatre Kingston in association with the McCarter Theatre Center reside at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week with their production of Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones.

Stones In His Pockets at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre with Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor.

The play was written in 1996 for the DubbleJoint Theatre Company in Dublin, and it is set in a small Irish community where a lot of the residents are employed as extras on a Hollywood film shoot and all 15 characters portrayed are played by just two actors.

Having originated in 1996 in Belfast, the production moved on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1999 and London’s West End soon after, where it won two Olivier Awards in 2001 for Best New Comedy and Best Actor in a play. This production is directed by Lindsay Posner and performed by Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor.

Stones In His Pockets at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

The plot centres around two friends (Jake and Charlie) who are employed as extras and their various interactions with fellow extras, residents, movie stars and crew.

The community’s initial excitement turns slightly bitter when the production team and creatives take advantage of the locals and prioritise to finish the movie on time rather than portraying the community in true spirit.

A local teenager is humiliated by the leading lady and ends up committing suicide by drowning himself (with stones in his pockets), more conflict arises around the time of the funeral and the American director refuses to take any consideration of the locals’ feelings and ideas.

Stones In His Pockets at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

The set design by Peter McKintosh is simple and effective, consisting of a meadow on some steel deck, with a stone wall, stools, a blue sky background and a trunk where the filming equipment would be kept, but in fact is used to store some items for costume changes.

Sharpe and Trainor bring a lot of skill and experience into the portrayal of the 15 characters between them and the changes are achieved by a simple movement such as a full turn or by a quick costume change.

One of Sharpe’s characters is Ashley, an assistant director in charge of the extras with the catchphrase “Quiet everyone, settle!” which did get some laughs from the audience. However, due to the lack of ‘action’, there needs to be more humour and structure in order to make this production work.

Apart from moments like these and the drama of the boy committing suicide, which is slightly lost due to the fact that it takes time to work out where each conversation is going and to work out which character is speaking, there is no real storyline and plot to follow.

Stones In His Pockets at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

There is also a very odd ‘Riverdance’ moment in Act Two which is not easy to comprehend and does not seem to fit with anything that happens on stage. By the time we work out who the characters are half way through each conversation, they move on and we are not wiser about the reasons for the dialogue.

I shall credit the summary to a fellow audience member who was sitting in the row behind us and commented as the interval started: “I don’t get it… I don’t see the point of it really…”

Stones in His Pockets runs until Saturday, June 29 and tickets are available via the website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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Responses to Stage Dragon Review: Stones In His Pockets At The Yvonne Arnaud

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    June 27, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    The play was often puzzling, though by the second act we were understanding the clever switching between characters, each having a different voice. The acting was superb.

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