There is seemingly a cast of hundreds in Marie Jones’ sparkling provincial comedy Stones In His Pockets which is currently doing another whistle-stop tour of the UK.
Hard-working Stephen Jones and Conor Delaney, together play more than 15 characters, ranging from troublesome young tykes to crippled old men, a Hollywood superstar, druggies and village yokels.
Is there no end to their talents?
The comedy stopped off at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre last night and the laughter is probably still resounding through the town.
It’s more than a slice of Irish whimsy. This multiple award-winning play is stuffed with a collection of off-the-wall characters that, together, make up a community.
Good, bad or indifferent, they’re all striving for their dreams.
In the case of Stones In His Pockets the dream-makers have come to a quiet rural backwater for a bit of Irish charm and end up dishing out a dose of reality for £50 a day plus catering.
Delaney (from Game Of Thrones) and actor/director Jones play Jake and Charlie, a couple of chancers who have managed to get work as extras on the big-budget “filum” being shot in Co. Kerry.
Charlie walked away from a failing DVD business to “do Ireland” while Jake returned to the Emerald Isle after finding that America wasn’t the land of opportunity.
They meet on set and we’re immediately plunged into an alternate universe where, just by changing their jackets, the pair slip into a variety of characters.
Jones is spectacular as the film’s Hollywood star Caroline Giovanni, all pouts and posturing. Quick as a flash he’s a menacing Scot’s security guard, a school-teacher, a schoolboy, the movie’s director and its assistant director, the exasperated Simon.
Delaney excels as runner Aisling, who herds the extras into place, and the wizened old Micky who relies on the work to pay his bar bill.
The pair’s transformation into new characters is astonishing to watch.
Movement director, Bryan Burroughs, has made their transition look graceful and totally natural as the men take on a new personality in the blink of an eye.
The title refers to Sean, a boyhood friend of Jake’s, who has turned his back on his dad’s farm to pursue his own dreams – only to fall into drugs.
Sean (Delaney) only appears in one brief scene. He staggers on to the set hoping to find work.
When he’s shown the door, more than once, he realises that, for him, his hopes will never become a reality and he takes drastic action.
Director Ian McElhinney doesn’t allow the story to ever get maudlin. It’s a wonderfully joyous tale that has you laughing throughout – even at its brief, but dark, moments.
Catch it at a theatre near you.