Stones in His Pockets is a two-hander written in 1996 by Marie Jones for the DubbleJoint Theatre Company in Dublin.
The drama is set in a rural town in County Kerry 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 is 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.
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, Kieran Lagan, Lloyd Hutchinson, Brian Doherty, 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.