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Two-man shows can be a bit of a drag, especially if the story is uninteresting. Constant character changes between the duo make it nearly impossible for the audience to get sidetracked and still understand what’s going on.
Christina Martos and John Cullinan found themselves in that very situation — constantly switching characters — as they portrayed a total of 15 players in Los Alamos Little Theatre’s production of “Stones in His Pockets.” However, the show was anything but a drag.
Written by Marie Jones, directed by Chris Monteith and produced by Jess Cullinan, the show is set in County Kerry, Ireland and tells the tale of Charlie Conlon and his friend Jake Quinn.
Cullinan is no stranger to the LALT stage. He most recently starred in “Frost/Nixon” and has been a part of the Los Alamos Light Opera. He took on the role of Jake, as well as that of Aisling, Mickey Riordan, Sean Harkin, John, Dave and Kevin Dougherty. His transition between characters was flawless and his portrayal of each was convincing.
Martos definitely had her work cut out for her and did a phenomenal job of playing eight different characters. To further complicate the situation, only one of those roles is that of a woman. In addition to playing Caroline Giovanni and Charlie, she also plays Simon, Clem Curtis, Fin, Brother Gerard, Jock Campbell and Mr. Harkin.
Both Martos and Cullinan were also tasked with speaking in Irish brogue. While some actors tend to lose their accents once in a while, the duo was able to keep it going throughout the show. Even when Martos switched from being Charlie to being Caroline, she was easily able to pick up the brogue once again.
The show opens with the duo working as extras on a movie set, as Hollywood invades the little town. Caroline works hard to learn Irish brogue and is intrigued with the County Kerry way of life. Like outsiders are wont to do, she attempts to immerse herself in the culture and attempts to use Jake as a vehicle for that.
“Stones in His Pockets” is one of those shows that might seem predictable, but takes a drastic turn during the last part of the first act, which sets the scene for the second act. The majority of the show focuses on Charlie and Jake, as they work on the set of the movie, each lusting after Caroline. They cuss, they joke and they make crude comments — of course, never within earshot of the actress.
Though the set is very simple (a couple of chairs, a coat rack and a box on wheels), the actors make the best of each prop. There is no one running onstage switching out props as the lights dim. Instead, Cullinan and Martos move the props around on stage themselves.
The actors are outfitted in slacks, button-down long-sleeved shirts, blazers and Irish caps. Martos constantly removes and puts on her cap as she switches characters.
Sean Harkin becomes a major part of the story as the first act comes to a close. A troubled young man who has had issues with drugs, he finds himself on the movie set looking for work as an extra. Despite his efforts, he is turned away and refused employment. This seems to be a pattern in Harkin’s life and ultimately leads to a major decision that helps set the mood for the second act.
Martos and Cullinan breathe life into each of their characters. Martos, despite being a woman, convincingly portrays the part of the males. Her voice deepens as she plays Charlie and becomes high-pitched when she switches over to Caroline. The transition is smooth and the audience has to pay close attention to the character changes, as not to get lost.
Cullinan’s portrayal of Harkin is heart wrenching. At first, it’s easy to dismiss the young man as a ne’er do well, but later on, it’s hard to not feel compassion toward him.
There are some funny moments during the first act, which had the audience laughing out loud. However, following intermission, things get serious and the play’s tone changes. Despite the transition from funny to dramatic, there still is time for Irish Step Dancing (or River Dancing). Cullinan’s and Martos’ fancy footwork seemed to resonate well with the audience, garnering applause following their brief performance.
“Stones is His Pockets” is not for younger audiences. With colorful language and some adult situations, it’s better suited for older teens and adults.
There’s still time to catch the show at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at LALT, 1670 Nectar St. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors and are available at CB Fox or at the door.
Don’t miss this delightful production.