Stones in his Pockets/Malvern Theatres

EVER since character actor Victor McLaglen first staggered into view on the set of a John Ford western, the Blarney-stoned Irishman has remained a staple of stage and screen.

It’s a cliché taller than the Cliffs of Moher, but never mind. Just as diddly-diddly music is guaranteed to get the pulses racing and the feet tapping, so is the Celtic stereotype bound never to fail.

Oh yes. Regardless of how much sham there is in this particular shamrock, the Anglo-Saxon sensibility falls for it every time.

Writer Marie Jones’ script has more verbiage than a Tom Stoppard play and that’s really saying something. There are thousands of words for the actors to learn in a plot that revolves around two local yokels who have signed up as extras on a Tinseltown epic set in Ireland.

But you would be mistaken if you thought that this is a pastoral stroll through rolling green hills accompanied by the occasional burst on the uilleann pipes.

Nothing could be further than the truth, because this piece moves at the breakneck pace of a fiddler on amphetamines.

Every double act needs a straight man and those hobnailed boots are easily filled by Charlie (Kevin Trainor) who must somehow keep his leprechaun mate Jake (Owen Sharpe) in check as they enter the unfamiliar and occasionally hostile land of Luvviedom.

Along the way they play a whole host of individuals, from textbook cigar-chomping directors to faded movie divas on the look-out for a bit of horizontal action with a younger man.

Many of these changes occur at lightning speed, which is why some of the humour can get lost in the process. So you do need to pay attention at all times.

Nevertheless, Stones in his Pockets is a well-crafted, superbly interpreted work, and a master class in wordplay. It runs at Malvern Theatres until Saturday (April 27).

John Phillpott