20 Year Celebration Brings A Steinbeck Classic
Alicia Bateman previews OF MICE AND MEN - see it here from Tue 8 - Sat 12 March.
“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place…with us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.”
To celebrate twenty years of producer Jenny King’s Touring Consortium, the theatre company has teamed up with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to bring drama lovers a brand new tour of the beloved John Steinbeck classic, OF MICE AND MEN. Directed by Brimigham’s artistic director Roxana Silbert, the well known story follows two migrant farm workers held together by a mutual dependence, a deep affection and an undying loyalty, who go on search of a new beginning in the hope of attaining the luxurious American dream; earning enough money to purchase their own land to build a home. No strangers to trouble however, George and Lennie soon find themselves reeling from the fallout of an unfortunate innocent which soon spirals out of control and leaves the two men, bound together by friendship, facing an earth-shattering climax.
The emotive cast includes William Rodell as “George”, who plays the fast-talking dreamer who takes care of his slow-witted but friendly companion Lennie. Having past experience on a building site and as a sole carer to his brother, Rodell plays an extremely life-like and admirable George; demonstrating the true compassion he has towards his loyal friend. Kristian Phillips stole the audience hearts with his superb portrayal of “Lennie”.
Although the naive character commits to several faults throughout, we have nothing but sympathy for the child-like man, forcing our emotions to surface. Arguably the star of the show; Lovejoy’s Dudley Sutton makes an appearance as Of Mice And Men’s “Candy”. Along with the BBC classic, Sutton is a renowned stage actor who began his career starring in some of the most iconic plays of the sixties, including Jo Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane and Tom Murphy’s A Whistle In the Dark.
Sutton to described his character in the play; “It’s very interesting because he’s the oldest guy and he represents the growing weakness of workers who are going to be slung on the mud heap - the dung heap - as soon as they can’t do a job anymore. He’s lost a hand already and is just doing what they called ‘swamping out’ – washing the floors and stuff – and as soon he can’t do that anymore they’ll sling him on the dung heap which means virtually the workhouse.”
He then went on to discuss any significance Wolverhampton has on him; “The first football match I ever saw was Wolverhampton Wanderers. I saw them play just after the war, they all had very long shorts on and since it was the first match I’d seen I was quite confused.” Excellent and enticing support comes from the rest of the cast, who all take turns as stage hands and musicians. Adding to the intimacy of the play, which is also represented by Liz Ascroft’s desolate set. An American classic, raw in speech and action, bought to life through a sincerely moving production.