Monday, December 08, 2003

Stone in His Pockets (Playhouse Square Foundation_

'STONES IN HIS POCKETS' disappoints at Palace

In London, STONES IN HIS POCKETS was called "'a comic masterpiece." It received three Tony Award Nominations. It was the winner of London’s Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

The play is partly based on Marie Jones' experiences of acting in films shot in Ireland. It relates what happens when a major Hollywood film studio descends on a village in County Kerry. The story is told from the viewpoint of Charlie and Jake, two locally hired extras employed to look downtrodden and oppressed on demand. The quirk is that two actors not only play Charlie and Jake, but 15 different male and female roles, including a spoiled starlet, the harassed director and a host of local characters. All this is done without costume changes.

The show has been hyped as hyperkinetic, hysterical, and satirical. Unfortunately, the touring show, starring Bronson Pinchot, best know for his role in TV’s PERFECT STRANGERS, and Tim Ruddy, an Irish actor who has a solid list of credentials, doesn’t fulfill the hype. The exit of a great number of audience members at intermission, and the mild applause at the curtain call, attests to the lack of viewer pleasure.

With all the positives, why didn’t the show work at the Palace Theatre?

First, this is an intimate play. It gets lost in the cavernous space of Playhouse Square’s Palace Theatre. Attenders who sat beyond the middle of the main floor complained that they could not hear nor see some of the subtle characterization changes.

Second, Pinchot and Ruddy simply didn’t let loose. The hysterical humor that might have emanated from the lines was often lost due to a lack of dynamic, playful presentation. Part of this may have been caused because of Pinchot’s reported recent illness.

Third, the advertisements for the show got the audience ready for hysteria. This, at least as
presented is not a hysterical show. This is another of those Irish bleak tales of Gallic woe and

Capsule judgement: Are there funny moments? Absolutely. Are there some delightful characters? Yes. But, a hysterical play? I think not. That is, unless in the hands of a more adept set of actors it might have been given a different slant. That’s what I’ve been told was the case from those who saw the show in New York and London. But this is the Cleveland production, and it was disappointing.