The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Rich Hurley and Peter Josephson. Matthew Lomanno photo.

See Stones in His Pockets 

Where: Stockbridge Theatre, Pinkerton Academy, 5 Pinkerton St., Derry
When: Friday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $20

Two actors, 15 roles
KAPOW tackles Stones in His Pockets

By Kelly Sennott

 There’s no downtime for actors Peter Josephson and Rich Hurley in theatre KAPOW’s upcoming production, Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones.

The duo are playing a combined 15 roles in this two-man show, which is not unheard of for KAPOW — there were just three actors in last year’s Macbeth, but that play had very few characters in each scene. 
“People have said, ‘Of course, you did Macbeth, so of course you’re doing this,’” Josephson said at rehearsals last week. “But it’s very different because, in this case, there are times when you’re onstage and having a conversation with yourself.” (He mentioned one scene in which seven of Hurley’s characters all come in within 15 pages of the script.)
At the time of their interviews, the cast members had moved to their eventual performance space on the Stockbridge Theatre stage. Behind the curtain, photographer Matthew Lomanno was setting up his camera to take press photos of the actors in their many costumes — with pipes and plaid jackets, head shawls and sweater vests — while the rest of the clothes hung on an assortment of chairs and sat in two leather trunks on stage. 
Stones in His Pockets is an Olivier Award-winner about a movie location shoot in Ireland that causes a small-town ruckus. It focuses on Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, two residents employed as extras, as are many of the townspeople.
“A lot of the play is about outsiders and intrusions. An American movie crew is coming into this small little Irish town to make a movie about them,” Hurley said.
Director Matt Cahoon said he and his wife and company co-founder, Carey Cahoon, read the piece about this time last year. 
“It’s an interesting play for us for a couple of reasons. It’s a small cast, obviously. And it’s a challenging play. It’s funny. We usually do comedy in this time slot, but in typical KAPOW fashion, it’s not a comedy throughout. The first act is very funny, but by the end, you realize it has a serious piece to it,” Cahoon said.
Also in typical KAPOW fashion is its imaginative presentation, told like a story offered person-to-person. Costume changes happen before your eyes, and the road trunks onstage act not only as places to hold clothing, but as buses, bar tables or whatever else the actors need that scene. Audience chairs will be configured so they’re right up onstage with actors.
“In one of our very early rehearsals, Rich referred to it as two Irish guys sitting at a bar telling each other stories. That’s very much how it feels. They’re always Jake and Charlie, and they take on these other personas as the show goes on. But we never lose Jake and Charlie,” Cahoon said.
The real kicker for actors is that, along with so many lines and so many characters, they also have to learn many Irish dialects. Josephson joked he’d found himself muttering different Irish accents to himself in the grocery store the other day. They’ve also been listening to the accents via CDs.
“We did Penelope a couple of years ago, which was an Irish comedy, but you can do it without worrying about accents. You change two or three words and it’s an American script. You can’t do this play without the accents. The accents are part of the story, actually,” Josephson said.
Hurley said he grew up in an Irish family near Boston and heard a lot of Irish accents growing up, but the challenge is making them sound authentic.
“I think I grew up with the Americanized Irish brogue, which you know, sometimes can be over-the-top leprechaun-y, and that’s what I don’t want to do,” Hurley said.
Sets will include artificial grass to offer an Irish countryside feel, plus a house foundation and movie prop corner. David Brown from the New Hampshire Philharmonic will be on stage playing the fiddle, and lighting will feature both traditional theater and TV styles, which will flip-flop throughout the play to help indicate when the camera’s rolling in the story.
There are poignant and dark moments within the piece as well, but that’s what company members like about it.
“I like the Irish nature of the play. There’s just something tragic and comic about the Irish people in general,” Hurley said. “It has very very dark moments that are played as funny sometimes, too, and that’s the way the Irish people are.” 

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