CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Stones in his Pockets by Marie Jones at the Cheltenham Everyman

PUBLISHED: 16:32 22 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:32 22 March 2016

Conan Sweeney and Charlie de Bromhead in Stones In His Pockets

Conan Sweeney and Charlie de Bromhead in Stones In His Pockets

Darren Andrews

If you’d wanted a winner during race week, you should have backed the Everyman, says Katie Jarvis

It’s race week, and there are Irish storming the streets of Cheltenham as we make our way to the theatre. Swaying on sidewalks; staggering in shop doorways; pitching in the Prom; spilling out of pubs like beer frothing from taps. Extras in a scene where horses race and jockeys lean, light in the saddle and fast on the gallops.

It’s race week, and there are Irish on the stage, too, in Cheltenham; at the Everyman Theatre. Two Irishmen, who swagger and simper and strut and sway, as if not two but crowds of Irish.

Clever. Clever stuff.

Clever, clever Charlie de Bromhead and Conan Sweeny, the actors two. And clever Marie Jones, who wrote this wonderful play – Stones in his Pockets – some 20 years ago.


We’re in rural County Kerry, where the locals have taken 40-smackaroonies-a-day (a fortune!) jobs as extras, in a film peopled by £6-million-a-movie American stars. As he waits in the catering queue, film-extra Charlie can’t even get himself an extra piece of lemon meringue pie from caterers seemingly trained by the RUC. Life is hard, he moans to fellow extra, Jake, when the wide, wide world is more convinced by a Hollywood-Irish accent than an Irish one.

And then the fun begins. Because Charlie – swaggering, hard-up, gin-loving Charlie – suddenly simpers and smoulders: “I’m third generation on my mother’s side. I do get a real sense of belonging here,” he sashays. “You people are so simple, uncomplicated, contented!”

And ha! You begin to realise you’re now looking not at Charlie but at Caroline Giovanni, Hollywood actress; star of the film in which Charlie and Jake are mere extras. Caroline, who begins flirting with handsome Jake: “Would you like to go back to the hotel for a drink?” she smoulders.

“I don’t think I’m allowed!” Jake panics, before calming enough to recite her some deep, deep verse he’s written. It’s not been published, of course, because that “cheapens your poetry”. And it works. It works right up until the moment he recites it to her, and she recognises it as Seamus Heaney.

But, don’t worry! Sex goddess Caroline isn’t too put off. She likes the locals. She has a habit of going native.

My gosh – this play is such fun. And my gosh – these two actors (Conan Sweeny in particular) work so hard, morphing and remorphing into 15 different characters as the action rushes at the speed of a Gold Cup winner. And, as the pace runs relentlessly on, you begin to recognise old friends not by a change in costume but by a certain turn of the head; a coquettish nuance; a lowered tone.

It’s a funny play: sometimes the humour is in verbal wit; sometimes it’s in the absurd portrayals. Sometimes it’s in Riverdance pastiche (the two shows came out contemporaneously); sometimes it’s in the simple mime of negotiating a crowded pew in a churchful of invisible people.

And it’s a sad play, too. The title, you realise, is the lead in the balloon. There are times actors have to cheer when they just don’t feel like cheering.

If you missed this at Cheltenham, you can catch it at The Theatre, Chipping Norton from April 5-16. And, do. Because, at the end of the day, the Irish who sashayed in and out of the Cheltenham pubs (even those who backed a first-past-the-post race spectacular) missed a real winner on stage. Stoned in the streets? Give me Stones in his Pockets anytime.

Stones in his Pockets by Marie Jones at the Cheltenham Everyman, March 17-19, 7-10 Regent St, Cheltenham GL50 1HQ, 01242 572573;


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search