Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a text often used for GCSE English examinations, and it’s easy to see why, for this is a play which could be analysed over and over, and then analysed again!
Starring William Rodell as George and Kristian Phillips as Lennie, and with a ‘band’ (formed by cast members) beside the stage adding to the atmosphere of the piece, this production featured a set which was easily manoeuvred by the ensemble. Notable, too was the lighting design which matched every nuance of the tale, which is powerful, dramatic and exceedingly melancholy.
We are introduced to George and Lennie when they are on their travels, again, in search of work. George is the leader of the pair as Lennie has some mental impairment. Lennie is played superbly by Kristian Phillips, he can demonstrate Lennie’s character with body language in equal ability to his delivery of the dialogue. So much larger in stature than George (William Rodell) who has been sticking up for his mate for many years and beginning to come to the end of his tether. Lennie likes to stroke soft textures such as fur and is obsessed with a dead mouse in the opening scene. Whereas George has to regularly appease his side-kick with fantasies about their own ranch, where they would “live off the fat of the land”.
Finding employment on a ranch is the beginning of the end for the enduring ‘friendship’. Despite some understanding from their colleague, Slim (Jonah Russell) and the comradeship offered by old Candy (Dudley Sutton) who has one hand and an aged, smelly dog for company (played spectacularly well by Arthur, making his stage debut!), Lennie’s behaviour is the cause of many an upset. The young man does not know his own strength, or indeed his own mind, and a step closer to the dream of working of his own ranch with George is a short-lived shot in the dark.
This emotional journey is portrayed brilliantly as a team effort, Sutton is a joy to behold as Candy, the actor is an octogenarian, now and can still project! Saoirse-Monica Jackson makes her professional debut as Curley’s ‘tarty’ siren of a wife and what a talented discovery this young actress is. The cast share a chemistry which lends itself to the play, and the relationship between Lennie and George is a particular highlight.
This master piece finishes on Saturday 13th February so get in quick!
Visit the website for more information and to book tickets for the remaining performances – http://www.Birmingham-rep.co.uk