Selladoor Worldwide and Matthew Townsend Productions present us with a new production of this famous American classic.Of Mice And Men is a powerful portrait of an unlikely friendship in California during the Great Depression.
Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck, memorably tells the story of polar opposites George and Lennie, two friends and migrant workers, who dream of eventually owning their own ranch. When George and Lennie begin work as farmhands, the story unfolds as we begin to understand George’s concerns for Lennie. The other workers welcome them into the ranch apart from one, Curly, the Boss’s son, who is ferociously uptight about his wife and appears to have issues of his own.
Opening with a beautiful sequence of workers trekking in sunrise, symbolised by light and haze shining through the scenic timber set, we are introduced to Richard Keightley as George and Matthew Wynn as Lennie. Sat by a river, the clear sounds of water when they wash, birds as they fly by and a crackling fire are a pleasant addition to the scene. We slowly warm towards their endearing relationship as the first act unfolds.
Keightley portrays George’s journey with Lennie well, he appears extremely fierce in the first instance, but the gentle pace of the play allows for Keightley to show us his compassion and care for Lennie. Wynn’s naivety and consistent merriment is moving and believable. There are plenty of moments you find yourself watching Wynn’s precise and thought-out reactions. You cannot fault Keightley and Wynn’s connection which lies at the heart of the story.
With numerous attempts over the years to have Steinbeck’s book banned, Director Guy Unsworth talks about overlooking the men’s historical circumstances and that “to remove those elements would render the play inauthentic to its time”. I couldn’t agree more; there would be absolute backlash if you were to take the grounds of racism, offensive language or euthanasia out of the 1930’s. We are then wrongly reflecting on a time that potentially didn’t exist, which I’m sure is not the point of this story. Of Mice And Men is timeless; in light of the migrant crisis and natural disasters, it is still very relevant today. Unsworth stays true to Steinbeck with a genuine and honest adaption.
Andrew Boyer as Candy really gleams talentin the depth of his aging role. Kevin Mathurin’s characterisation as Crooks, is commendable, he brings new elements of the story to light. Talented Harry Egan as Whit is one to watch, his energy and personality driven spiel to the other workers is enthusiastically engaging.
A wonderfully moving and emotive production from all creative angles. The power of classic writing, an authentic story and relative direction is truly present.