A lengthy incarceration, a war outside of the prison walls, and two forgotten prisoners losing their grip on time and reality, Stones is essentially a slow unravelling of two characters, Jasper and Rose, who become entwined with one another through stories of the past, grief, and hallucinations.
a smooth, confident and truly enjoyable opening for Brighton Fringe
Artlandish Production’s usual subtle wit and lyrical prose was apparent from the outset as dialogue washed over you just as the character’s meandering thoughts washed over them. Talk of a moat around their prison cell added to the sense that the piece itself was being carried by a gentle, poetic tide throughout. The reason for the characters’ imprisonment remained a little unclear and left a nagging question unanswered, but the depth of the script and the detailed exploration of the piece’s layered characters more than made up for that.
In a very strong cast of five, Chris Gates was particularly mesmerising as Jasper Stones and managed to give a compelling but sensitive performance while chained to a pillar for almost half of the play. Gates and Howarth’s delivery had a certain Shakespearian quality to it, and both were extremely enjoyable to watch.
Judey Bignell’s direction added a cinematic quality to the piece, with Levins and Black, playing Jasper’s two dead brothers Peter and Lucious respectively, personifying the stories Jasper and Rose recounted to one another, often to comedic effect.
The tale was very much suited to the blacked-out brick encasement of the Rialto, and it really didn’t need anything more than the single pillar as a set piece. It was well pulled together by simple, but effective lighting and original music from Hannah Baxter.
Stones was another thoughtful and intriguing play from Artlandish Productions and a smooth, confident and truly enjoyable opening for Brighton Fringe.