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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Stones in His Pockets

Daniel Brochu (l) and Kyle Gatehouse (photo credit:

Chasing Hollywood
by Sarah Deshaies

Stones in his Pockets is for anyone who's ever chased a Hollywood dream, or just watched a movie

Small Irish living contrast with the hungry movie-making machine in Marie Jones' play, directed by Andrew Shaver, and staged at the Centaur.

Kyle Gatehouse and Daniel Brochu play a myriad of roles, but their main personas are two buddies who meet up on the set of a Hollywood movie that's taken over a picturesque small town in Ireland. They, and it seems, the rest of the town, are playing extras - they're the backdrop to an over-the-top film set in their in own hometown. Talk about being sidelined. 

The play is entertaining, and captures the despair that comes from being stuck in a small town when you've got big dreams

Realist Jake Quinn (Gatehouse, making his Centaur debut) is jaded, having escaped to America but recently retreated home. His new friend, Charlie Conlon, has been beaten down in more ways than one: his video rental store having been taken out by an imposing competitor. He's a smart-talking outsider, new to town. But opportunistic Charlie clings to hope: a red duo-tang folder that encloses a script he plans to slip into a potential producer's hands.

Brochu and Gatehouse hold up the show with their energy and rapid character changes. The latter morphs into Aisling, the go-getter assistant who constantly orchestrates the extras, telling them to “settle, settle.” He's also the grizzled veteran extra, Mickey, and Sean Harkin, Jake's young, troubled second cousin, a man rejected by the casting crew. Brochu is a whiz, moving with energy from Charlie to Caroline—the glamorous movie star who takes a shine to “local ethnic” Jake—to Fin, Sean's childhood friend.

The play is entertaining and captures the despair that comes from being stuck in a small town when you've got big dreams. But it stumbles when it comes to tragedy - we just haven't built up enough sympathy for the character who gets bumped off. 

The set establishes the grand Irish scenery the movie is trying to evoke, but also the temporary world of a movie set, reminding us we've got one foot in fantasy and the other firmly planted in reality.

Montrealers will appreciate the play's underlying skewering of Hollywood, as it makes a good argument for the homegrown movie industry: Charlie and Jake's frustrations likely mirror the story of anyone's who tried to make it the tried-and-true way, but found that sticking to what you know also works. 

Stones in His Pockets runs until Feb. 27 at the Centaur.
Read David King's profile of Daniel Brochu.
Running time: 1h40

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