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Fantasy and reality collide in moo-ving comedy at BoarsHead Theater

By |2018-01-16T05:50:28-05:00December 1st, 2005|Entertainment|

LANSING – It all begins and ends with cows.
That’s true not only for the residents of County Kerry, Ireland who find themselves cast as extras in an American movie being filmed in their tiny village, but also for patrons of Lansing’s BoarsHead Theater who attend its latest production, “Stones in His Pockets.”
The Irish comedy runs through Dec. 18.
Normally, there’s not much excitement in this rural, Irish town. The best its young people can hope for is to inherit the farms of their ancestors. But even that is no longer a guarantee of success: Lately, some farmers have had to sell acreage and cattle to make ends meet.
But the arrival of a big-budget American film has the townsfolk electrified. The local lodges are packed, and the 40 quid the extras earn per day has money flowing through the community like milk from cows. And there’s much to laugh at, as well: The professionals’ accents are as far off base as is the Irish culture the movie tries to illustrate.
However, the bright lights and even brighter hopes the Americans bring to the community have a dark side, as well. Real life, they discover, is not what they see on the silver screen. Rather, reality is what the individual makes of it – and sometimes it’s just too much for a person to bear.
But since “people want happy endings,” one of the characters tells us, playwright Marie Jones delivers just that.
Plus, of course, the cows.
Jones tells her story through the eyes of two men: Jake Quinn, a local resident who moved to the states in search of the American Dream – only to return home disillusioned; and Charlie Conlon, a man who lost his business but finds hope in the glitter of Hollywood.
There are a dozen other characters, as well. But what makes “Stones in His Pockets” an interesting and challenging evening of theater is the gauntlet Jones tosses director John Peakes and his cast of incredibly talented actors: All 14 roles are played by Neil Necastro and Paul Riopelle.
Unlike such plays as “The Mystery of Irma Vepp” and “Greater Tuna” in which the actors must leave the stage in order to be transformed into other characters, Jones’ script calls for immediate transitions. In the blink of an eye Necastro switches from Jake to Mickey, a 70-something who is the last surviving extra from a John Wayne movie, while just as quickly Riopelle morphs from Charlie to actress Caroline Giovanni. In some cases, all it takes is a simple, sweeping gesture; oftentimes it’s more elaborate. But in every instance it’s an immediately recognizable change that never leaves the audience confused.
(And wait till you see the curtain call: That alone deserves a standing-oh!)
“Stones In His Pockets” runs Wed.-Sun. at the BoarsHead Theater, 425 S. Grand Ave., Lansing, through Dec. 18. Tickets: $21-$33. For information: 517-484-7805 or http://www.boarshead.org.
The Bottom Line: Director John Peakes returns home and serves up a delightful dish for the holidays, topped by excellent performances by Neil Necastro and Paul Riopelle.

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