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'Stones in His Pockets' at Subiaco Arts Centre

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by Newt (subscribe)
Freelance writer, PR person, loving the Perth lifestyle of fabulous food and wine, great weather and wide open spaces.
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Fast moves make for hilarious comedy
A scarf or a pair of sunglasses, a walking stick or hat are the only costume changes that provide a hint of which character is in Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets, playing at the Subiaco Arts Centre for a two-night performance.

The two-handed comedy stars WAAPA graduate Sean Hawkins and winner of a Green Room Award Best Actor in an independent production, Grant Cartwright, in a delightful comedy well suited to the intimate surroundings of the Subiaco theatre.

Stones in his Pockets, Subiaco Arts Centre, Sean Hawkins, Grant Cartwright, Marie Jones, Blasket Islands
Sean Hawkins and Grant Cartwright star in Stones in his Pockets

Stones in His Pockets has played all over the world, including a five-year run in the West End and the Subiaco production is part of a 2017 tour of Australia.

A crumpled backdrop of a rocky foreshore in the Blasket Islands in Ireland's County Kerry, a few directors chairs, a couple of storage boxes, a fake rock and a couple of vases of grass give the two boys a comfortable setting to work in. The set is certainly not the star of the production - that falls to the engaging Hawkins and Cartwright, who move at lightning, choreographed speed through 15 characters between them.

A straightening of the body, a slouch, an effeminate posture, combined with perhaps a change of an item of clothing gave the packed audience the clues they needed to keep up with the character changes. The two main characters, Charlie and Jake have been through tough times in Ireland and are grateful for jobs as extras in a Hollywood film shoot that comes to their community.

While Hawkins and Cartwright make sure that Charlie and Jake's story is kept to the fore, other characters swirl, in almost sleight-of-hand appearances around them. Stones in His Pockets is very funny, made even funnier with the occasional unscripted moment, a momentary loss of a line, the woman who arrived late and had to walk across the front of the stage to get to her seat and unwittingly became part of the performance and even Sean Hawkins, seeing me scribbling in my notebook, plonking himself into the seat next to me and whispering "write that I'm a good actor," he chuckles.

And good, they both are. Working at this kind of pace can't be easy, even to the point of having a conversation with yourself, moving from side to side on a bench and changing character, the lightning fast character changes, even if it is with just a scarf or sunglasses and a change of accent, makes the practical part of this performance breathtaking.

While the play is essentially a laugh-out-loud comedy, it has its share of light and shade to give it depth as the boys touch on difficult circumstances in their own lives and deal with tragedy on the set. But it is Cartwright's delightful character of American film star Caroline Giovanni that steals the show for me. The actress is determined to seduce Jake as a way to make sure she gets the Irish accent she is struggling with, just right.

In this scene, Cartwright removes his trousers and slides on black stockings to become the famous actress, before summoning Jake to her Winnebago where he finds her on her back, in sexy black knickers (he rolled his boxer shorts up to get that look), with her legs in the air. With simple hand movements and a turn of his head, Cartwright transforms himself into the American actress.

Stones in his Pockets is a winner of Best Comedy (Evening Standard Awards), Best New Comedy (Laurence Olivier Awards) and Best Play (Irish Times Theatre Awards) and deservedly so.

Hawkins and Cartwright are assured in their performances, even as they allow their own personalities to shine through. They create an engaging and very funny two hours of theatre.
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Why? A very funny and engaging two hours of theatre.
When: Friday 21 April 2017 to Saturday 22 April 2017
Phone: 08 9380 3000
Where: Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco WA
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