Stones In His Pockets

Marie Jones' much-loved play gets the Gaelic treatment

Nearly a decade on from when the original Stones In His Pockets was performed to a handful of daoine in An Cúlturlann the dráma returns, translated to Irish. Gráinne McCarry goes along to An Amharclann Shiobhán Nic Cionnaigh on the Falls Road to watch Stones In His Pockets as Gaelige. See below for a glossary of Irish words used in this review.

It’s been to Broadway and back, collected numerous awards, and has been translated into various different languages ar fud an domhain. Now, at long last, Stones In His Pockets receive the Irish language touch courtesy of the Aisling Ghear Compántas Amharchclainne. 

The play begins on a scarce stage – a rack of éadaí and a mound of stones to the right, a small bench to the left and a painting of scenery hangs on the back wall. As the story unfolds, I find myself captivated by the swift changes of character, blás and facial expressions. 

There’s a feeling of sceitimíní in the air. Hollywood has landed and go ceann tamaill the ordinary, working class have a chance to become part of an world they've alway dreamed of. Afach, they quickly find out that the film industry isn’t like real life. It's all just make believe. 

The main characters are Ballycastle man Charlie (played by Tony Devlin) and Belfast-born Jake (Sean de Burca). They can hardly believe their luck when they get chosen as extras for the latest Oirish Hollywood blockbuster. What’s more they’re getting paid £40 gach lá and bia saor in aisce for standing around all day pretending to cut turf.

Very quickly, the lucht féacana learns of the extras’ desire to have a different life – Jake dreams of being in the movies. His attempts to find out ‘how to make it big’ are leanbaí and soineanta, revealing a sensitive side to him. While Charlie has written a script and desperately wants one of the crew to read it. 

Caroline Giovanni (also played by Devlin) is the object of everyones’ affections and comes with all the droch-chaint, hissy fits and dramatics expected of a Tinseltown diva. She plays príomhaisteoir Maeve in the Hollywood movie, and despite Stones In His Pockets being a drama within a drama, the actors make it all very easy to follow. 

The way Devlin effortlessly changes from the broad Aontroim thuaidh accent of Charlie to the sultry voiced Caroline by the swift removal of his tweed cap raises a well deserved laugh from the audience. Indeed, with another switch of his cap, from back to front, he changes again to Simon, the camp first assistant director. 

I ndiaidh an sos, the storyline develops a darker side. The laughs are still there, but the audience is poignantly reminded that not everyone can bounce back from rejection. and the play's origins become apparent. 

Hollywood may have come to an ceantar offering money, hopes, dreams, but as the filming continues the extras realise that the bright lights are not as attractive as they once seemed. When a real life tragóid occurs they understand that the ‘A’ list life is actually fickle and fake. Fake emotions. Fake concern. Fake everything. It’s only then that Charlie and Jake realise that the acting life is not all it’s made out to be. 

Gráinne McCarry

Stones In His Pockets moves to The Baby Grand at the Grand Opera House on September 25 and 26 before embarking on an Ireland wide tour. 

GLOSSARY
daoine - people
dráma – play
An Amharclann Shiobhán Nic Cionnaigh – The Siobhán McKenna Theatre
as Gaelige – in Irish
ar fud an domhain – throughout the world
Aisling Ghéar Compántas Amharchclainne – Aisling Ghéar Theatre Company
éadaí – clothes
blás – accent
sceitimíní – excitement
go ceann tamaill – for a while
afach – however
gach lá – every day
bia saor in aisce – free food
lucht féacana – audience
leanbaí – childlike
soineanta - innocent
droch-chaint – bad language
príomhaisteoir – lead actor
Aontroim thuaidh – north Antrim
i ndiaidh an sos – after the break
an ceantar – the area
tragóid – tragedy