When LA lands in County Kerry
Your local theatre needs you. This week sees the return of the comedy Stones in His Pockets to Dubai – and despite enjoying rave reviews the last time it played two years ago at Ductac, director John Payton insists that productions in the region need more support than ever.
"Last time, Stones in His Pockets played during St Patrick's Week, and judging by the reception it received, it went down very well," he tells Emirates Business. "However, you're only as good as your next audience, and we're under no illusions.
"Dubai is a busy city and people are coming and going, so commercial theatre is always going to be difficult. When you have funding to fall back on, it's easy to have a show, but when you're relying on ticket sales it is risky.
"The last two years have been very hard for us – we've occasionally seen audience attendance drop. So we just keep on spreading the word and promoting our shows, and our first show of this year: Blood Brothers, sold out which was fantastic.
"Everyone has to make ends – but we're growing and we've been well supported by the media."
Payton is part of Popular Productions, which has brought arguably some of the best shows to the region, including The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Disney High School Musical 1 & 2, and Annie.
Their latest show Stones in His Pockets runs until Saturday at the First Group Theatre, and Payton says to expect more laughs than ever.
"It ran at Ductac two years ago, but it deserves a second outing in Dubai," he explains. "This time around, it is a revival of the production. It has been tweaked a bit, and we believe that it is even funnier than before."
The play, which has also run on Broadway in New York and London's West End, is a tale of a quiet Irish community in the rural town of County Kerry, and its change by the arrival of a massive Hollywood movie shoot. The story centres on Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, who, like much of the town, are employed as extras for the filming.
Payton says: "These couple of guys haven't got much going on for them – when Hollywood arrives, it brings everything Hollywood represents with them, which is of course strange for these Irish rural types."
The director adds that much of the comedy of the play is derived from the efforts of the cast of two to perform all 15 characters (men and women), often switching gender and voice with the absolute bare minimum of costume changes – from the two cheeky Irish lads intent on becoming big movie players to the diva lead Hollywood actress, whose Irish accent leaves a lot to be desired.
"These guys have to change into so many characters so quickly and are fabulous. It's brilliant comedy.
"It's fun and silly, but also incredibly poignant, because there is a wonderful underlying story. We welcome anyone who wants to support local theatre – the more support we get, the better."
- Runs until April 3 at the First Group Theatre, Dubai. Tickets start from Dh120. Visit Stonesinhispockets.co.uk
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