It is a quintessentially American tale, told with a thick, Californian drawl…. literally, and is set in the doldrums of the Great Depression.
But that’s not to say it has no relevance to 21st century Australia. The play itself is an allegory for how society treats its displaced migrant workers looking for work and a better life. Sound familiar?
At its heart, Of Mice and Men is a portrayal of two migrant workers and their dream of putting away enough money to one day have their own piece of land.
And it’s beautifully told. It’s apparent from this production just how much John Steinbeck understood writing for the stage. He’s crafted a piece which is very simple in its execution, but which is positively bursting with ideas surrounding migration and the American Dream and he captures the sense of hopelessness of the Depression wonderfully.
Iain Sinclair has taken the directing reigns on this production. Iain’s talent as a director lies in finding little moments, often of little or no dialogue, that distilled those characters and the relationships between them.
Such as, during a scene change, when George and Lennie are putting a ladder in place, and once it is, Lennie tries to climb it, before George protests and stops him. And there were lots of moments like these. But by the same token, there were some moments that may have benefitted from a little more detail. Such as the scene in which Curley’s wife struggles against Lennie.
The production is populated by some great talent and fine some performances. The friendship between George (Anthony Gooley) and Lennie (Andrew Henry) is beautifully captured.
The supporting band of gruff ranchers are very strong indeed, with a stand out performance from Charles Allen as the crippled Crooks.
The Reginald Theatre is expertly transformed in to a ranch, resplendent with dirt and hay covering the floor. Various locations are created through the use of some furniture or the placement of a ladder. And set changes are executed using the characters themselves, set to a few blues licks, courtesy of Terry Serio as The Boss. All to great effect.
This is a simple little piece, but it says so much. It’s expertly executed by a pool of great talent. My only feeling is that is will benefit from having a few more performances under its belt.
Sport For Jove Theatre Company present
OF MICE AND MEN
by John Steinbeck
Director Iain Sinclair
Venue: Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre – Cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale
Dates: 9 – 25 July 2015
Tickets: $39 – $25
Bookings: www.seymourcentre.com | 02 9351 7940