John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is one of the best-loved novels of all time. It is deemed a classic work of literature, and for good reason. A poignant and powerful story set in the hard times of the Great Depression, and with themes still just as relevant today as they were eighty years ago, its lasting success and appeal is celebrated in this all-new stage revival by Selladoor Productions. In association with The Marlowe Theatre, the production embarks on a ten-week UK tour by opening at the Canterbury venue.
Director Guy Unsworth gives audiences a faithful adaption that stays loyal to the original story and the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ couldn’t be truer in this instance. There’s a great ensemble cast of characters in this play, but it’s migrant workers George and Lennie who are the backbone of the story and Richard Keightley and Matthew Wynn prove themselves to be a perfect choice for these two iconic roles. Keightley is vividly engaging as the smooth-talking brains of the outfit, George, while Wynn delivers an endearing and captivating performance in his portrayal of simple giant Lennie. The relationship between the two men is what drives the play forward, an unlikely friendship which fulfills both men in different ways. In a hard world of destitution, loneliness and hopelessness, George and Lennie have each other and their shared dream of a little place of their own.
Keightley brings a warmth and honesty to his role, and Wynn’s child-like joy in a colourless world never fails to raise a smile. However, it is their scenes together where we see the bond between the two men that they really shine, – a delight to watch as they dream of the future and heart-breaking in the play’s hard-hitting climax.
The supporting cast are an asset to the production as well, especially Andrew Boyer as the aging, crippled farmhand Candy and Rosemary Boyle as Curley’s Wife. They work their way well around a set which is simple but effective, and a clever use of light steers the scenes through the days as events unfold.
Of Mice and Men is a timeless tale that offers a riveting portrait of the American spirit and the importance of human connections. There’s no big showy moments or special effects here, but it’s the quiet power and impact of this classic work that makes it such a special piece of theatre to see.
Review by Julie Robinson
Of Mice and Men tells the story of George and Lennie, two migrant ranch workers who dream of owning their own ranch. With nothing but the clothes on their back and a dream, the wily and bright George aspires to independence, to be his own boss and most importantly to be ‘somebody’. Gentle Giant Lennie aspires to be with George and join him in his Eden, but as the saying goes – the best-laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry.
Set in the trying times of the Great Depression, when millions were forced to travel in search of a job and their dreams, Of Mice and Men is a powerful portrait of the American spirit and a heartbreaking testament to the bonds of friendship and what it means to be human.
Thursday 1 February 2018
Marlowe Theatre Canterbury
Booking to 3rd February 2018
Book tickets for ATG Venues: Theatre Royal Glasgow, Theatre Royal Brighton, New Wimbledon Theatre, Opera House Manchester.