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A Handful Of Stars

First Published 2 July 2014, Last Updated 6 August 2014

What’s it all about?

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a tale about pool; after all much of the show’s promotional material depicts the characters, cues poised, around a billiards table. Despite the play’s setting in a rundown pool hall, the game has little to do with the action that unfolds. Instead it centres on Jimmy, a troubled young man whose tough and charming exterior gives way to a tirade of self-destruction in what becomes a truthful and gripping portrait of small-town Irish life.

Who’s in it?

It is arguably Keith Duffy’s name that will draw audiences to this revival of Billy Roche’s tale of broken dreams and teenage malaise. The Boyzone singer-turned-actor, who makes his West End debut in the production, gives a convincing performance as small-time boxer Stapler whose black eyes and broken nose are an indication of his sporting success. Yet it is Ciarán Owens’ intense and harrowing performance as Jimmy, an adolescent with plenty of charm and equal amounts of pent-up rage, which is the true gem in this Theatre503 transfer. There are stellar performances, too, from Michael O’Hagan as Paddy, the establishment’s mumbling owner with a dubious cleaning routine, and Brian Fenton as the meek and intimidated Tony.

What should I look out for?

A clever use of the intimate studio space that incorporates members-only rooms, bathrooms and hallways into the entrances and exits of the Trafalgar Studio 2.

In a nutshell?

There are more than a handful of stars in this emotion-packed revival of Billy Roche’s tale, but Ciarán Owens shines the brightest with his portrayal of an adolescent on a treacherous path of self-destruction.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@joecbrownn: People need to get to @TrafStudios and see @theatre503 production of A Handful Of Stars. What a great show and a fab press night!!

Will I like it?

The transfer of this Theatre503 production was well-deserved; its depiction of Irish life is beautifully conveyed in Paul Robinson’s carefully paced production and theatregoers should take advantage of its prolonged residency in the capital by picking up a ticket for the show’s limited West End run.


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