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.by Wanda Sabir
Call (415) 820-1460.