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Well Cast Stones

Ah, memories: there I was, in the auld barn that is (was? it's impossible to keep up) the Tivoli Theatre in Francis Street, and it was with a feeling of being under some duress that I was waiting for the curtain for Marie Jones's Stones in His Pockets.

I was early in my career as a theatre critic and feeling somewhat resentful, having to go see a play that had been knocking around for a couple of years already. This, to me, was not the sign of a timeless piece of theatre; rather, it smacked of a lack of imagination on a production level and on the part of an audience that should always be seeking new experiences and new voices.

Well, cut me some slack -- I was a snot-nosed kid in those days. My instinct isn't wrong, in its broadest sense, because producers, who are not fools, do make a habit of trotting out old stand-bys. But is it possible to have both at once, to wed commercial viability with creative integrity? It is, in the case of this play.

I will be bold and hazard the guess that Jones was one of the first proponents of what has now become a standard in Irish theatre, that of a minimum cast playing the maximum of roles (if I'm wrong, get in touch!) Once the lights came up on the set, oh those many years ago, and once the actors playing Charlie and Jake began to tell their tale -- that of the incursion of a Hollywood film production into a small Kerry town, and the havoc it wreaks -- you couldn't help but be swept away by the excellent script, full of humour and pathos.

Quite simply, it's fun to watch. Theatre heads may remember Conor Delaney doing a sterling job in John Breen's Alone It Stands (another play that asks its actors to play myriad characters) and can count on him to bring the same degree of versatility to the parts he plays in Jones's play. He is joined by Simon Delaney (no relation), who can currently be seen in cinemas in the title role in Zonad and who has played in more than 800 performances of the show. I can't imagine a high-profile actor hanging about in a role that long if it wasn't worth it. Go check it out for yourself -- you'll miss something special if you don't. I almost did, and I would have regretted it sorely. - SC

Stones in His Pockets runs from Monday to Wednesday in the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire. See www.paviliontheatre.ie