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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

STONES IN HIS POCKET (article first published : 2001-12-9)

Just completed its run at Cape Town’s Theatre on the Bay was Pieter Toerien’s production of Stones in His Pocket by Marie Jones, which is quite the most entertaining piece of theatre I’ve seen in a long while.

I saw it in Johannesburg where it was perfectly suited to Toerien’s charming Montecasino Theatre. It tells the tale of what happens in a small rural Irish village in County Kerry when a major movie hits town.

Drawing from my own experience acting on movie sets, I responded immediately to the skilfully written – and interpreted - characters one meets in an average film crew. Under Maralin Vanrenen’s careful and meticulous direction, Jeremy Crutchley and Tom Fairfoot’s performances are exquisitely accurate and draw the full value of the essence of the types without making them overblown or grotesque.

But these two don’t just play the film crew alone. There’s a host of other characters – 15 all told! These range from the movie’s languid heroine to the garrulous and ancient professional extra or the manic security guard to the drug-wracked teenager who eventually commits suicide by drowning in a river. It is this act that prompts the title of the play.

Apart from the production itself, it was a joy to see Jeremy Crutchley back in this country. Having trained at the University of Natal Durban, he will be remembered for his performance in Equus, Sarcophagus, M. Butterfly and I Was King. Tom Fairfoot, who also has strong KZN links proves to be a strong match for the Crutchley theatrical magnetism.

Marie Jones’s fine comedy won the Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Comedy, 2000, and deservedly so. There’s a move afoot to try to get the production to the Hilton Theatre. Let’s hope it’s successful! – Caroline Smart




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