Friday, 10 October 2014

Preview Stones In His Pocket

FANS of the hugely popular TV show Game Of Thrones will know him as Barristan Selmy but Ian actor McElhinney is also a successful director.
And to prove the point, the Belfast-born 66-year-old has temporarily turned his back on acting to concentrate on directing a revival of Stones In His Pockets.
The show, a two-hander which was written by his wife, Irish playwright Marie Jones, follows the fortunes of a rural community in Ireland whose lives are turned upside down when a Hollywood film crew rolls into town to shoot a movie.
It originally premiered in Belfast in 1996, had a successful four and a half years in the West End, and earned a Tony Award nomination after its run on Broadway
Ian was its original director and he is now back at the helm taking it on a nationwide tour which includes three South London venues.
It is brought to life by two actors, Conor Delaney and Stephen Jones who between them take on all 40 characters from the cheeky lads intent on stardom to a Hollywood Goddess.
"It is quite phenomenal as it's a huge task," says Ian warmly. "They become all parts and represent various villagers and different people in the film industry like the director and leading lady.
"It's difficult to realise as you have to ensure it's very clear and the audience knows who they are meeting and what the context is.
"It's a huge challenge but Conor and Stephen do it with a great energy and verve - it's incredible."
Ian says he is enjoying the chance to revisit the show not least because audience reaction has been so positive.
"It's lovely to be back with it," he says. "Theatrically it's magical. It's a great story, very funny and that's why I think it was so successful.
"Marie never set out to write a comedy, it just evolved that way but it's brilliant - very cleverly written.
"Also it's nice for me to do some directing which I like to do."
So does he prefer acting or directing I wonder.
"I love both actually," he says warmly. "I got the acting bug in my teens and spent most of my time doing plays rather than studying!
"The intention was always to be an actor. However I enjoy both as it makes life more interesting so whenever I have had the chance to direct I have taken it."
And although a jobbing actor for more than 30 years it is for Game Of Thrones that he is now perhaps best known.
"Obviously it has been hugely exciting and has been great to be part of," he says.
"I came to it not knowing it was based on a series of books that were already very popular. You go into a thing hoping it will be good and fun and this looked like it would be. Then you realise the whole world has keyed into it!
"I'm enjoying it though and proud to be in it. It's capturing people's imagination and I count myself very lucky to be part of it.
"It's the same with Stones In His Pockets. We had hopes for it but the success way exceeded our expectations and we are thrilled about it."

Stones In His Pockets is on at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon on Friday, October 17, at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on Monday, October 20 and at the New Wimbledon Theatre on Wednesday, November 12. Visit to book tickets.

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