Review: Stones In His Pockets At The Barn Theatre, Cirencester

Writer: Marie Jones

Director: Matthew McElhinney

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, Marie Jones’ witty but moving tagic comedy leaves you feeling joyful and inspired.

Jones’ Son Matthew McElhinney directs the piece and creates a rounded uplifting story of friendship, optimism and the importance of dreams. Rather than focus on whether the ‘happily ever after’ cliche often used by Hollywood is a bad thing, it’s that focus on self determination, friendship and community that sets the evening on course for an uplifting and inspiring evening out.

Shaun Blaney and Gerard McCabe play Jake Quinn and Charlie Conton as well as a vast array of characters using little else than hats, jackets and peice of fabric to break them apart. The duo bounce off each other with boundless energy, while also creating a level of depth and relatablitity with each character. For saying thus production is fast paced and slick, it never lacks emotion.

The production strays away from creating caricatures and instead brings out the natural humour that’s found in Jones’ punchy brilliant script and finds humour from the everyday folk of Derry. You end up laughing with them and not at them. If anything, it’s the larger than life characters of Hollywood that are there for that, such as McCabe’s portrayal of Hollywood Superstar Caroline and Blaney’s fresh faced Assistant Director Aisling. Each one lights up the stage with flamboyance and fun.

Sam Tanner’s lighting design captures the mood by contrasting the more lively brightly lit scenes with the more intimate and heartfelt moments.Gregor Donnelly’s set design is also a great at creating a peice of beautiful Irish countryside on the Barn’s compact stage.

The use of AV is almost a character in its own right, Ben Collins & Alex Tabrizi’s backdrops help set the scene with projected backdropsn but it’s the snippets of specially created film which are so clever in creating an added layer to this production. The final clip rounds off a fantastic evening

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll go home feeling inspired . While the play may proclaim you go to the theatre to come away depressed, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Stones In His Pockets is full of life, soul and energy. It gives you the fire in your belly that many of us need right now.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*This production was watched via stream and was gifted in exchange for a review. This value for money rating is based on ticket prices for this production between £11.50 and £36.50. For more information on the value for money rating, click here.

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