Brilliant performances have the audience buzzing

Its over twenty years ago since I saw my first Eastern Angles play, and since then everything from Boudicca’s Babes to Booming Voices have explored the history and landscape of East Anglia. It’s always worth grabbing the opportunity to see one of their productions, but even by their own high standards, Stones in His Pockets was outstanding. Admittedly, a nineties play about a Hollywood film shot in Ireland might seem like an odd choice for a company closely associated with the region but, at its core, Marie Jones’s play taps into the same themes, of a rural life disrupted, that lie at the heart of so many of the company’s previous productions.

Notionally a two hander, the play features many more characters, requiring the performers to deftly move from Jake to Mikey to Sean or Charlie to Caroline to Jock, with only the turn of a cap serving as a costume change. Cathal Ryan and Lórcan Strain rise to the challenge so brilliantly that I quickly moved on from marvelling at their skill to sitting back and enjoying an unusually large cast spin an absorbing tale of hope, community, and tragic loss. Amy Watts’s simple yet imaginative staging combined with David Barton’s subtle use of sound enhanced Rosy May’s faultless choreography of the actors.  With the precision of dance, a turn of the head, a flick of the wrist, and a look in the eye, they painted a wholly convincing portrait of the comic-horror of film intruding on the still part of a turning world.

Director Jake Smith has huge, Ivan Cutting sized, shoes to fill with his first production for the company, which I imagine must have weighed heavily on his shoulders. Based on the evidence so far presented, not least a palpable buzz from the audience on leaving, the company is in very safe hands.