Review: Of Mice and Men @ New Theatre

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Author: Weeping Tudor

Birmingham Repertory Theatre – Of Mice and Men / New Theatre / Tuesday 3rd May

Like with An Inspector Calls, Of Mice and Men is another literary classic which I’m guessing is still on the curriculum. This American story is a telling depiction of the struggles of the Great Depression and the hardship of the common American people.

Of Mice and Men depicts the famous two leading characters: George and Lennie in their pursuit of work and a stable life, so that they might make something of themselves. This Bromance is threatened by Lennie’s simple and sensory pleasures, as they flee from a previous place where he aggravated the locals. His desire to love a small animal is coming from the right place, only literal heavy petting of the creatures usual leads to fatalities. George keeps him and himself in line, trying to make sure he doesn’t upset any ladies as well (Lennie is innocently crazy for girl’s skirts… just for the fabric).

The play version is slow and large parts of dialogue about farm life is less than riveting. Where the pieces is defined is the inevitability of the whole situation and the ending which has manifested from these said tragedies. The set is fitting and features wide open spaces, lovingly portrayed through a back cloth of sheer landscapes. Actors in the show play both the music and create sound effects, adding immensely to the mood.

Both leads do great justice to the story: William Rodell, a sexy and lean spirited George, and Kristian Phillips as the loveable giant soul of Lennie. The two are pitted together, each one representing a different part of a man’s psyche. Some American accents did wan in the ensemble, but Jonah Russell was the perfect Slim, the cowboy like character who is level-headed and kind to the two travellers.

Dudley Sutton rambles as Candy, his accent needs work but his emotions over losing his dog (a not-well-trained dog it appears) was heartbreaking. As Whit, Nicholas Goode captured the character with great passion, even for the brief time he appears on stage. Dave Fishley was also on top form as Crooks, the black help on the farm. He depicts the time’s unease of his race: his passion and mild anger, grilling Lennie about the proposed farm of their own.

Saoirse-Monica Jackson as Curly’s Wife (the only female role) brings a fleeting sense of loneliness and longing to the part, as her husband (an irate Ben Stott) marches around frequently looking for her, concerned she has been with other men. She is no fling, but really just a good person who wanted attention. All this ends in wonderfully tragic ways.

The tragic ending is worthy seeing for itself. You may find yourself wiping away tears.

An American classic that should be seen.

Rating: 4 stars

Of Mice and Men continues at the New Theatre till 9th May 2016.

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