Stones in His Pockets

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Stones in His Pockets
Stones in His Pockets.jpg
Written by Marie Jones
Date premiered 1996
Place premiered Amharclann na Carraige
DubbleJoint Theatre Company
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Setting County Kerry in rural Ireland

Stones in His Pockets is a two-hander written in 1996 by Marie Jones for the DubbleJoint Theatre Company in Dublin, Ireland.

Plot summary[edit]

The drama is set in a rural town in County Kerry Ireland that is overrun by a Hollywood film crew. The story centers on Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, who, like much of the town, are employed as extras for the filming. Much of the comedy of the play is derived from the efforts of the production crew to create the proper "Irish feel", a romanticized notion that often conflicts with the reality of daily life, and that it calls upon the cast of two to perform all 15 characters (men and women), often switching gender and voice with swift dexterity and the absolute bare minimum of costume changes - a hat here, a jacket there. The key point in the play is when a local teenager commits suicide, by drowning himself with stones in his pockets, after he is humiliated by one of the film stars. The set design, by Jack Kirwan, is also simple - a backcloth depicting the cloudy sky above the Blasket Islands, a row of shoes (symbolising the myriad characters) and a trunk, a box, and two tiny stools. The lighting design was originally by James C. Mcfetridge and this design was used in both the London West End and the Broadway versions of the shows.

Stones In His Pockets is a tragicomedy about a small rural town in Ireland where many of the townspeople are extras in a Hollywood film. The play centers around two friends, Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, that are employed as extras on the film. Charlie has aspirations to get his script made into a movie. Jake has recently returned from New York and is mesmerized, along with everyone else, by the star of the movie, Caroline. Caroline is a famous, beautiful American movie star that fails to ever successfully conquer the Irish accent. Caroline and the other American crewmembers do not attempt to accurately portray the town and people and only care about finishing the movie on time. Most of the locals are initially excited at the opportunity to be a part of a major film and distracted by the novelty. However, as the film continues they begin to feel abused and the glamour begins to wear off. After a night in the pub, a local teenager, Sean Harkin, is humiliated by Caroline and thrown out into the street for trying to socialize with her. The first act ends when Sean commits suicide by drowning himself with stones in his pockets. The second act continues the story with the town devastated by the loss. Jake begins to blame himself for not reaching out to the boy and Charlie tries to console him and let him not lose hope. Conflict arises when the film crew is hesitant about letting the extras have a break for Sean’s funeral. It becomes even more apparent to the town that the film crew has their own agenda and no concern for the people. Jake and Charlie decide to rewrite Charlie’s script and make it about Sean’s story instead. They present their idea to the American director who in turn tells them the story is not romantic or commercial enough.


The play began life as a Dubbeljoint Production premiering in West Belfast Festival in August 1996 - the original cast was Conleth Hill and Tim Murphy. The play began life at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast with the initial run touring to the small community hall in Ballybean estate (East Belfast) and the Culturlan on the Falls Road in West Belfast (where it played to roughly 5 people). The script was modified heavily during the rehearsal period by Marie Jones, Ian McElhinney and the cast with re-writes occurring regularly. The show moved to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1999. The show then returned to Ireland and had a brief run in Dublin before moving to London's Tricycle Theatre, it then transferred to the New Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End. The show, however, proved so successful, its run was extended and moved to the Duke of York's Theatre up the road, where it remained for three years.

The original cast of Conleth Hill and Sean Campion took the show to Broadway and, as its West End run continued to play to packed houses, actors were lining up to play Charlie and Jake, most notably Bronson Pinchot, Rupert Degas, Hugh Lee and Simon Delaney.

It won the Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Award for Best Production in 1999, won two Olivier Awards in 2001 for Best New Comedy and Best Actor (Conleth Hill) and was also nominated for three Tony Awards in 2001.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, Marie (2000). Stones in His Pockets &, A Night in November (First ed.). London: Nick Hern. ISBN 1-85459-494-X. 

External links[edit]