Anton Krause talks about Stones in his Pockets and the challenges the production presents.
I was looking for a stripped-down show of this kind to direct. I saw the play when it was on in the West End in about 2000 and enjoyed it so much I went twice. I loved the fact that these two actors managed to tell this story with a cast of thousands (well, maybe not quite thousands!) to a packed West End crowd with almost nothing – no props and no costume changes – just voice, physicality, lights and sound.
What challenges does the play present to the actors and to you as director?
The main challenge is always to ensure clarity. Our first responsibility is to tell the story to the audience as clearly as possible, and this is particularly difficult when the cast are playing multiple characters. The audience needs to recognise each character instantly to put their lines in the correct context. The fact that the characters have multiple accents (Northern and Southern Irish, American, Scottish, RP, London and so on) can both help and hinder. A distinct accent can make the character easier to identify, but can also be harder to decipher, so we may need to err on the side of clarity over authenticity.
Aside from the obvious, what’s different about directing a two-hander in comparison to a larger cast, such as your last play Edgar & Annabel?
Actually I think the main difference between these two plays is not so much the size of the cast; with Stones there are significant challenges with regard to directing the actors, but there are fewer extraneous tasks to worry about. No set, no costume changes, no bombs or karaoke. It means that I can concentrate on directing and not have a dozen other jobs to do as well.
Without giving too much away, how have you decided to stage the play?
On ice! (Okay, we rejected that idea at an early production meeting and decided to go down a more conventional route.)
As the show uses an absolute minimum of props and costumes and the actors portray multiple characters, we decided not to make things any harder by attempting it in the round or traverse or anything like that, so that all audience members get as close as possible to the same view of the action.
What do you think the audience will enjoy about and take from the play?
There is a great deal to enjoy in this play. The style is novel and we hope this will keep the audience engaged. It’s great fun watching the sheer skill of the actors, but the play is not about gimmicks. At the heart there is a real human story, and characters we can identify and empathise with.
The show runs in the Upper Hall at Stanley Halls 5 – 9 April and tickets are on sale and available here.