A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions
 
 
 
 
Stones in His Pockets
In the West End of London, Marie Jones’ serious comedy “Stones in his Pockets” is enacted against a never changing backdrop of clouds, fronted by a lineup of shoes.  Otherwise the stage is bare except for a couple of chairs and a trunk that also serves as a wall over which children peer at a movie being filmed.  An American company arrives in an Irish village to film a script which sounds like all the Irish romantic movies ever to have been perpetrated by Hollywood.  There are turf-cutting local townsmen, village celebrants at a wedding between the rich heiress of the manor and her groom, who is of course a poor local lad who restores their land to the villagers.  In addition to these roles, including the village’s oldest extra, are Charlie and Jake, two losers who carry the plot

forward.

 

 The invaders from movieland include a starlet, her John Wayne-type bodyguard, a haughty British director, and his fluttery assistant who, with his burly lover, controls the band of Irish extras hired for local color at forty pounds (about $65) a day.  All these roles, including children, are played by two talented actors, Sean Campion and Conleth Hill, who also enact Jake and Charlie respectively.

 

In her tightly-woven plot playwright Jones combines comedy that turns inside out stereotypical attitudes toward the Irish, satire of movies and their stars, music and dance (intricate patterned group folk dance performed by the cast of two), and serious commentary on the damage done to the weak by the Hollywood dream.

 

The actors assume their role changes with lightning speed, from pouting, hypocritical starlet (Mr.Conlon) and a dope-crazed young Irish lad (Mr. Campion) who pursues her, only to be ejected by her bodyguard (Mr. Conlon) with fatal results.  When the extras ask to take the afternoon off to attend the funeral, the movie makers reject their pleas, with the excuse that filming is costing them a quarter of a million dollars a day.  “Then how come we are getting only forty pounds a day?” asks the bent, ancient local (Mr. Campion), whose one claim to fame is that he was an extra in “The Quiet Man.”  They do go to the funeral, on the condition that no one drinks.  The starlet attends, sending flowers and, heavily veiled, making a speech about the man she never knew but whose humiliation by her bodyguard has led to his suicide.  A flashback reveals the boy as a child, peering excitedly over a wall at an earlier filming, his immersion in the impossible dreams perpetrated by the movies leading him to the dope that promised realization. The ending is as ingenious is the conception of this play which has been cheered in Dublin, Belfast, and Edinburgh.((New Ambassadors Theatre, West St., WC2H 9ND.)

Belfast-born Marie Jones has paid her dues in writing drama for regional theaters as well as for radio and television.  For seven years she was writer in residence for the Charabanc Theatre Company there, her plays touring the world, including Russia, Germany, the U.S. and Canada. Five of her plays have toured extensively in Ireland and the U.K., including “Women on the Verge of HRT,” which was seen at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. “A Night in November” appeared off Broadway in 1999 and won an award at the Glasgow Mayfest.  “Stones in his Pockets” has won many prizes.  As an actress for films and television, Marie has appeared on television in “Life after Life,” and in the movie “Best,” she plays George Best’s mother.