Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 25, 2023

Review: Great Barrington Public Theater, "The Stones"

Great Barrington Public Theater, Great Barrington, MA
through July 2, 2023
by Suzanne Wells

"The Stones," written by Kit Brookman, premiered at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is making its American debut at Great Barrington Public Theater, under the direction of Michelle Joyner.

Photo by Kat Humes
For those who enjoy a challenging puzzle, a mystery, or an escape room, this play is the fulfillment of all. "The Stones" is a romance wrapped in a ghost story, enveloped in the subconscious. Set in England, Nick, played by Ryan Winkles, is a London teacher in a tedious job and an ambivalent relationship. After having an epiphany, he gives up his secure income, boyfriend, and apartment, for a new life and the possibility of a secret love, ultimately leading him to a surreal experience.

The stage, designed by Dai Ban, is dark, with fallen monolithic stones set in the center of a stone circle. Nick describes his experiences and recollections in vivid detail with the stones representing various locations, from
a London apartment to a cottage on a manor estate near a little village and a dried-up lake. The sound and music by Alexander Sovronsky and Wendy Welch, along with her periodic appearance as the gray ghost, increasingly add to the eerie sensation that something is not quite right.

The talented Ryan Winkles’ performance is delightfully disturbing. Haunted by his past and unsure of his present, Winkles’ monologue is droll and darkly humorous. He presents as various characters providing distinct personalities and making each easy to visualize. Winkles’ portrayal will draw the audience in and guide it through a myriad of emotions, including frustration, guilt, hope, longing, joy, chaos, confusion, and fear, to name a few.

As with any good ghost story, "The Stones" leaves one with the unsettled feeling of wondering what is real and what isn’t. The audience will have much to discuss following a viewing of this production – preferably next to a fire while roasting marshmallows.

For its third season, Great Barrington Public Theater will present two more original plays: "Off Peak," and "Just Another Day". Led by Deann Simmons Halper, Executive Director; Tristan Wilson, Managing Director; Jim Frangione as Artistic Director; and Judy Braha as Associate Artistic Director, Great Barrington Public Theater fulfils its mission of providing “new stories from local voices.