A Handful of Stars at Trafalgar Studios
In a smoky pool club somewhere in the Irish 80s, a jukebox is stuffed into a corner, crucifixes are hanging on the walls and one of the windows is smashed just like it has been the last fifteen years. It is in this small town hangout that Billy Roche’s A Handful of Stars takes place, staged at London’s Trafalgar Studios. A story unravels as the characters gather around a pool table and tells tales of their adolescent yearning to belong. To our lead characters Tony and Jimmy, this is a feat almost impossible without having to bend the rules.
Jimmy is a leather-jacket brawler fighting to make his way in to adult life whilst trying to cope with the pressures of the macho environment he is surrounded with. That, combined with an otherwise troubled mind, results in a cocky outlook with bouts of anger and violence. Tony is the polar opposite of Jimmy, with his big glasses covering half of his face he finds himself bullied by the men around him. To be accepted into the members’ room of the pool club is Jimmy and Tony’s biggest dream.
The play showcases a notion of a male power, how they influence each other by their pondus, earned agency and age. The difference in the chemistry of the group psychology is very palpable depending on which characters are on stage and interacting. The actors skilfully pull through these fine threads of power between the characters, despite some minor performances falling flat.
The first act begins quite slowly, cementing the hierarchy of the men, while the second act sees an increase in the pace and intensity. The actors’ persuasive performance keeps the audience hooked, while the intimate setting of Trafalgar Studios secures a vivid atmosphere in which smoke trails from Jimmy’s cigarettes drift out among the audience. What begins as a slow coming-of-age tale soon explodes in an eruption of feelings and rash decisions, leaving the viewers with the captivating closure still in mind.
A Handful of Stars is on at Trafalgar Studios until 25th July 2014. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch a trailer for A Handful of Stars here: