Stones in His Pockets Synopsis

McCarter play synopses are provided to help inform curious or potential audience members about the story content of our plays in production. They are fairly detailed in their description of a play’s events. Some may want to read the overview of the story below before the performance, while others may skip the synopsis to avoid the revelation of plot points before experiencing the play in performance.

The choice is up to you!

The action opens on an idyllic, scenic village in County Kerry, Ireland. The town has been thrown into a tail-spin with the arrival of a cast and crew, all on set for the production of a major American motion picture, The Quiet Valley. Charlie, one of the film’s extras, stands at the food services table pleading with the caterer for an extra slice of lemon meringue pie for another extra who has “sprained his ankle.” Meanwhile, another extra, Jake, a “local” and another extra, is lounging in the sun and laughing at Charlie’s failed attempt to score another piece of pie. Simon, the First Assistant Director of the film, enters barking orders to the Third Assistant Director, Aisling. Aisling, who is young and anxious to impress her superiors, yells at the extras to get in place. Jake and Charlie mumble under their breaths, and Charlie divulges that he recently lost his video shop to a bigger chain that moved into town, Blockbuster. They take their positions near Mickey, an extra in his 70s, who is a local celebrity as the last surviving extra from the 1952 filming of famed Irish-American director John Ford’s The Quiet Man, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Then Caroline Giovanni, a glamorous American film star, appears on set; she is followed by her dialect coach, John. Caroline is struggling to perfect her Irish accent, and John suggests that her accent may improve if she listens to locals speaking casually at the village bar. Jake remarks on how beautiful Caroline is, how out of reach, and how terribly awful her accent is. Charlie confides in Jake that he’s written a film; after watching so many movies in his shop, he finally decided to pen his own. As the last scene slated to be filmed for the day wraps, Charlie walks up to Aisling with his script in hand, but she does not have time to speak to him. After several attempts to talk to her, Charlie quietly puts his script back in his pocket as he runs into Mickey. Unsolicited, Mickey warns Charlie not to make himself known as an extra–to “survive” he must lie low.

Sean Harkin, a cousin of Jake’s, stumbles in. Though Sean had admired Jake and spent time with him in years past, Sean had changed in recent years. Sean is visibly high on some kind of drug and fuming that Aisling threw him off the set the day before for being under the influence of something. He exits furious. Jake sees Sean’s friend, Fin, and questions him about what can be done for Sean. Later at the bar, Sean staggers around asking if anyone has any drugs on them. When he comes up empty handed he becomes even angrier than before and storms off. Jake and Charlie spot Caroline in the corner of the bar.  She seemingly ogles and then eventually makes her way over to Jake, who she invites back to her hotel for a drink. Before he departs, Charlie implores Jake to take his script with him, just in case.

The next day on set, Jake recounts via flashback the story of his night with Caroline to Charlie. In an effort to woo her, Jake tells Caroline that he writes his own poetry, and, trying valiantly to pass them off as his own, quotes lines from famed Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Caroline catches Jake in this lie. Charlie interrupts Jake’s story to ask if anything happened and perhaps, more importantly, if he showed her the script. Jake responds in the negative to both queries. Disappointed, but not undone, Charlie runs to Aisling in hopes of giving her the script, but she brushes him off and urges him to give it to the Production Office instead.

After wrapping a scene, Simon informs Jake that Caroline would like to have coffee with him. Jake is told that he will have just ten minutes with her before he is ushered away. But first, Jake is grilled by Caroline’s security guard, Jock; the experience leads him to the realization that he does not necessarily want to visit with her again. He is pestered by Simon to keep the appointment, and encouraged by Charlie that it could lead to more work. Once in the trailer, the two make small talk and Jake becomes aware that the only reason Caroline asked him to coffee is to help her with her accent. Jake becomes fed up with Caroline’s rude attitude and leaves before his ten minutes are up.

Spoiler alert! If you would like to read what happens next in the story and how the play ends, click here.