The Stone Trilogy 

For Second Wind's 2002 Production

By Wanda Sabir, San Francisco Bay View 2002

Ian Walker's The Stone Trilogy , three one-acts connected thematically, deserves more than a cliche commentary, so I won’t say that it was stunning, although it was, that and much more.  The Stone Trilogy is a riveting, emotional journey that left me drained, yet full.

 Good theatre repackages things that matter, especially three plays that could have easily stood separate, alone.  Granted it was a long evening; however, the three hours passed rather quickly, no doubt due to the well-crafted script, superb cast, and the playwright’s direction.  The catchy music that acted as the seams between scenes and set changes didn’t hurt either, whether it was an Irish folk song or Ladysmith Black Mambasa.

“Erin’s Hope” was clearly the more developed work, perhaps because it is the first play and existed all by itself before the other two were born.  Set in New York, the story is of a loyal Irish family—a dad and a daughter who religiously collect money for the orphans back home, or at least that’s what Erin thinks until a stranger comes calling.

The strength of each of the plays is the relationships between characters—each has so much at stake.  In “Erin,” Finn, who grew up fascinated with cemeteries for their history, finds himself caught in an ideological war he can’t win, while Erin surrounds herself with ghosts.

It’s hard to talk about each play in any detail without giving away its secrets, so I won’t but it’s rare to find such fine theater in a small place—all the more a shame that after all the work Walker, the cast, and the carious production staff put into the work, there was hardly anyone in the audience to appreciate it.

The evening I attended there were about 20 people, where 75 would almost fill the house.  Situated just below Theatre Artaud, at 420 Florida at 17th Street, San Francisco, the theatre is almost underground.

Violence and healing are themes that run through all the plays, with dead bodies left unclaimed in each one, too—the body in the closer in “Erin’s Hope,” and unresolved conclusion, while the Afrikaner and South African man’s mutual dislike can lead only one place, despite the apologies, “truth and reconciliation,” etc.

Then in the final work, “An Accident of Identity,” one of the protagonists is dying slowly from a blotched surgery for a gunshot wound.  “Accident” explores the dynamics between a terminally ill man and his lover, the politics of clinical trials and corporate medicine.  “Accident” makes a case for “Jon Q.”

The ending is a little bit over the top.  Uniformly, in each play, the endings were the places where the writing fell off, but not enough to detract from the overall wonder.

As I watched the ensemble shift from one culture to another, one place to another, one role to another, I was amazed at their ability because each character was so different—Walker’s world was one all of us could recognize even if we didn’t want to.

Take actor Christopher Slater, for example; he was a naive IRA messenger (Finn), a proud Boer (Lawrence), and a stone carver (Jonathon) whose friend is dying and he doesn’t know what to do.

The stones anchor the work.  I found myself looking for them, whenever the plot slipped or someone was in trouble, because I knew it would help.  I think I looked for the stones not necessarily to take home, but to have something to grab on—something to chew.

This Sunday there’s a matinee at 2pm.
Call (415) 820-1460.

by Wanda Sabir


 Audience Reviews from the SF Fringe Festival Production, 2006:

Play: The Stone Trilogy
Reviewer: Anon.
4 Stars
Ian Walker's "Stone Trilogy" exemplifies what one hopes to find at a Fringe Festival - a strong, unique emerging playwright. In each of the three plays, Walker offers up sarcastic wit, plots of both politics and human connection, and a poetic use of language. All three are well-executed, though I found "An Accident of Identity" to be the tightest all-around. There are some exceptionally honest performances throughout the evening. While there could be a stronger connection among the plays, each stands up well on its own. This is a true playwright showcase and not to be missed

Play: The History of Stone
Reviewer: Lisa B. Lee
4 Stars
This was a very difficult play to watch, which speaks to the wonderful portrayals of the actors. The topic, the graphic imagery of the script, left me deeply touched and disturbed because I knew that much of this was rooted in actual events. The actors were SO believable, which only added to my feelings of discomfort as they described the cruel treatment of black South Africans by their white "policemen." I had trouble sleeping that night as I envisioned poor little Stephen's burned flesh falling off onto the hands of his uncle who was trying to rescue Stephen from the flames.

Play: The Stone Trilogy
Reviewer: Squish
5 Stars
An ambitious effort, especially for Fringe. Three one hour plays, related by a common theme that individually, could stand on their own. The acting is very strong across the board. Of course, I have a favorite, History of Stone, about redemption and forgiveness in post-Aparthied South Africa. But Erin's Hope and Accident of Identity are very intriguing as well. I saw all three over three days. It would be interesting to see them all in one sitting, which I may do this weekend. It's money well spent.

Play: The Stone Trilogy
Reviewer: gvd
4 Stars
All three of these are well worth seeing, although Erin's Hope is the only one I'd rate as not to be missed. All three are tightly plotted, well-acted, and make good use of Fringe restrictions of time and staging.

I give them a 4 overall, but it's a high 4.


Play: Stone Trilogy
Reviewer: RC
5 Stars
Most Fringe offerings don't have enough time to get at the heart of the matter. But with these three plays -- which stand alone as individual pieces -- you are taken into a world of confused politics and loyalities. Good acting, stimulating political discussions (even if I don't always agree with them).