Marie Jones’ Olivier Award winning comedy Stones in His Pockets plays the Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday July 29-Saturday August 3 as the last date on its current tour.
Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor are the two actors taking on a multitude of roles – and as Owen says, the revival has been a timely one.
“This feels like the right time economically and socially, just in terms of history being cyclical. Lots of what was happening when the show was written is back again now.
“The rural communities are suffering, no one knows what is in the future and suicide is such a big issue for men. Not a lot has changed.
“The play was written in 95-96, I think, when there was not a lot happening in Ireland, before the economic boom, and the rural communities were finding it really hard…”
And this is the play’s context.
A small village in rural Ireland is turned upside down when a major Hollywood film studio descends to make a historical blockbuster on location. Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn are employed as extras along with numerous other locals.
As cultures clash, it becomes clear that Tinseltown’s romanticised dream of Ireland is a long, long way from reality.
Between them, Owen and Kevin bring it all to life.
This was a time when it was really cheap for the big American film companies to come to Ireland to make their films.
“They would come over and the extras would be cheap; the locals would be cheap. All they had to really pay were the big stars that they brought with them.
“And it was a mixed blessing. Like most things, everyone was thinking that it was going to be really good for tourism, that it would really put their village on the map, that money would be spent in their cafes… and after a while they realised that the reality was not really quite that and the film crews would disappear and the locals would end up feeling used and abused.
“You feel like you have been promised the stars and nothing has really happened. It was like the Olympics were going to change the east end of London.
“With these film crews, it was going to put the villages on the map and it does for a while and then they move on. It’s all about daring to dream, but what then happens when that dream bursts?
“In the big cities, you can dream and there might be other things that could happen, but in the small rural communities, there just isn’t anything else.”
Owen was originally from south Dublin: “As a kid I was in plays and I did plays at the Abbey, and in 97 I got a job at the National Theatre in London.
“I didn’t think I was going to stay. I thought I was going to be there for about three months and then I would go back and I would be looking for other things.
“But the play ran for a year and then it transferred, and I stayed. I just absolutely loved London. I would go around every day saying hello to people at first… until somebody said ‘**** ***, smiley!’ You can imagine that, walking down Brixton. But I just absolutely loved it there!”
And now he’s loving the rare chance to be in a two-hander, one that really stretches, one in which he plays pretty much all ages from six to 92.
“It is a great work-out!”
Tickets on www.atgtickets.com/brighton or 0844 871 7650.