“Of Mice and Men” at Theatre Unleashed playing through May 13 in the NoHo Arts District
Written by John Steinbeck
Directed by Aaron Lyons
John Steinbeck is the quintessential American writer. Epic and intimate, simple and complex, everything he wrote was truthful and original, and gave those of us from places other than here a magical glimpse into the American soul.
NoHo’s own Theatre Unleashed has brought the magnificent “Of Mice and Men” to the stage at a time in our world where it is more important than ever to recognize the struggle and immortalize those whose impact seems small but is in fact limitless.
During the Great Depression, two men, Lennie and George, travel together around the Western states of America in search of work. They move from place to place, as many others did, finding work mainly on farms or laboring. George looks after Lennie who is slow and prone to getting himself, and therefore George, into trouble, which is why they move more often than most.
George, however, has a plan, to save their money and buy some land he knows of and make a life for themselves. But he needs to stay in one place for long enough to save the money, and Lennie has a habit of forcing them to move on. This time though, George finds hope at the farm they are hired on. Hope in companionship, hope in the work and even hope in Lennie who appears to be keeping out of trouble…for now.
This is a heartbreaking tale, and one full of characters so alone and so fragile it’s a wonder they can make it through their days. But they do with the kind of strength you can only have when there is no other choice.
Theatre Unleashed does an incredible job of dramatizing this difficult and poignant piece. With the use of ingenious staging, artful scene changes and the constant playing of the beautiful steel guitar on stage, (the awesome Shane Howard) we are drawn into this world and mesmerized by the actors’ fantastic performances.
Aaron Lyons deft direction brings this story to life. It would be easy enough to loose control of this play, and for the story to careen untethered and unmovingly. But Mr Lyons has created a world and a space for these wonderful actors to really soar. Their performances are true and exciting, each actor totally committed to the sometimes very difficult roles they must play.
It just works…brilliantly.
Taking an iconic story that is so well read and so much a part of the American history is quite a challenge. But I think the time is right for all of us to challenge ourselves, to question and to compare, and ultimately, to remember the truth of the classics, like Steinbeck. During the depression there was no other choice than to just survive unless you were rich. There was no middle class, only those who worked and those who died and everything was controlled by the very few who had everything. It’s certainly a timely reflection of history and well worth a visit. After all, Steinbeck isn’t just for school, his words still resonate and have just as much purpose and power as ever.
I highly recommended “Of Mice and Men” at Theatre Unleashed.
11031 Camarillo St.
North Hollywood 91602
April 6 – May 13, 2017
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8PM
Lennie Small – Gregory Crafts
Geroge Milton – Spencer Cantrell
Candy – David Caprita
Boss – Jim Blanchette
Curley – Lee Pollero
Curley’s Wife – Amanda Rae Triosi
Slim – Jim Martyka
Carlson – Matthew Clay
Whit – Ross Shaw
Crooks – Twon Pope
Stage Manager – Beth Sorzato
Light Design – Michele Stann
Scenic Design – Ann Hurd
Costume Design – Jessica J’aime
Sound Design – Aaron Lyons
Armorer – Mark Bell
Marketing – Jenn Scuderi Crafts
PR – Jim Martyka
Photographer – Lonnie Silverman