Review: Temple Theatre’s “Stones in His Pockets”

NEWS-stonesinhispockets

SANFORD – If you’re slightly confused by the start of Temple Theatre’s current production, “Stones in His Pockets,” just give it a few minutes.

You’ll catch up, you’ll get the hang of two guys playing more than a dozen different characters and eventually, you’ll be blown away by their performances.

“Stones,” which runs through Nov. 1, is all about the acting, and the work done by Michael Brocki and Derrick Ivey is not only impressive, it raises that age-old question, “How in the world is Sanford attracting actors like this?”

Brocki and Ivey weave in and out of an assortment of characters, most of them Irish, in this tale of two men — main characters Charlie Conlon (Brocki) and Jake Quinn (Ivey) — who are “extras” on a big budget Hollywood film, “The Quiet Valley,” being shot in their quaint, scenic Irish town. Charlie is a big dreamer who spends his time on set ogling the movie stars and trying to pitch his screenplay, while Jake is back home reluctantly after not making it big in New York City.

“Stones” starts with the two men meeting and becoming fast friends, but before you get used to their personas, Brocki and Ivey suddenly become Simon, the ambitious director; Alsling, the flirtatious female assistant director; starlet Caroline Giovanni or Mickey, the stereotypical old drunk Irishman whose claim to fame is being the oldest living extra from the film, “The Quiet Man.”

When the actors become the new characters, they do so instantly, with a little more than a quick turn. This is no wardrobe change (save for the occasional jacket or scarf), so when Brocki becomes the megastar actress Caroline, we only know it by the change in his voice, the look in his eye and his body language.

And it works. Perfectly.

I can’t say enough how flawlessly the two men go in and out of character. According to the Wikipedia entry on “Stones,” written by Marie Jones, when the production came to Broadway in the 90s, big time actors like Bronson Pinchot, Rupert Degas and Simon Delaney lined up to play Charlie and Jake. Brocki and Ivey would give them a run for their money, I have no doubt.

They alone are worth the price of admission, but to add to the performances, “Stones in His Pockets” is a great story as well. It’s a story of big dreams and disappointments, how a Hollywood production can tear a small town apart just as quickly as it built it up.

The show’s title comes from a death in the show by one of the characters who drowned himself by walking into a lake with stones in his pockets. This decision came after a life of disappointments and, in the end, an unfortunate run-in with Caroline.

Without giving away too much, Charlie and Jake make it their goal to break the chains of their small town lives and be more than just “extras.” Do they succeed?

“Stones” is definitely for mature audiences, with more than a few Irish-drawn “F-bombs” and other words not for young ears. But it’s far from vulgar. It’s funny, it’s heart-felt and … again … it’s well performed.

As soon as you get used to having two men do it all, you’ll agree.

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