|Curley's wife||Janet Hignett|
REVIEW - Eastern Daily Press
Of Mice and Men
STEINBECK'S famous story of loneliness and broken dreams was imaginatively realised by Hazel Martin's production for the Society. Set in California after the Great Depression of the 1930s, the tale tells of the migrant workers Lennie, who has severe learning difficulties, and George, who minds him. They are unfortunate enough to encounter Curly and his attractive wife on a farm where they seek work.
The production boasts a convincing set which aptly serves as both the bunkhouse and the barn into which Lennie and George stumble.Martin Rodwell's strong central performance as Lennie was a detailed and well-observed character study which was carefully paced. He played the poignant moment with integrityand elicited audience sympathy without mawkishness.Ryan Howes, although young for the part of George, had a strong stage presence and performed with clarity and great energy with a consistently good American accent.
Peter Thrower, as Candy, conveyed the sadness of ageing in a world of no hope with a naturalism that was utterly convincing. His talk of one night in a brothel which he remembers so vividly whilst having no memories of hundreds of weeks of work showed the tedium and isolation of these men's lives.
Curly's wife doesn't have a name but is the catalyst for the impending tragedy. She is lonely and seeks company with the new arrivals. Janet Hignett played her with suitable allure but also revealed the awful loneliness and hints of abuse.
Hazel Martin created some tense and dramatic moments which kept the audience totally engaged throughout.The actors worked well as individuals and as an ensemble, but the stars of the performance were a puppy and Candy's dog, played by Gem.
Exponents of naturalism would have been proud of Ms Martin's commitment to the real as gasps of horror were uttered on the offstage shooting of Candy' s dog.
An exciting and moving evening in the theatre.