Skip to main content

Of Mice and Men

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars


Everyone's on the make in John Steinbeck's recession era novella that doubles up as a play, revived here in his latest look at American classics by director John Dove. Migrant workers George and Lennie may only want to earn an honest buck when they land on a Californian ranch to work the land, but the crop of malcontents they fall in with occupy what is essentially a microcosm of assorted American dreams that have been warped by capitalism. The solidarity and brotherhood that George and Lennie represent is considered suspicious by the rest of the workers, a menagerie of lost souls trying to protect the little they have. Candy is marking time until he's put out to grass, racism is legitimised, while Curley's wife is a wannabe starlet who, in Melody Grove's portrayal, sashays her way to her doom. Such, then, is the state of play during a recession.

All of this beautifully realised on Colin Richmond's wood-lined shack of a set, with William Ash's George and Steve Jackson's Lennie a perfectly pitched double act that never over-sentimentalises Lennie's slow-wittedness. Dove's cast navigate their way instead through a set of collective dysfunctions of little people looking for a way out and finding only scapegoats, as Lennie clings to anything soft or shiny for comfort, holding on too hard and never knowing when to let go.

If some of this at times looks slight compared to Steinbeck's masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, a pathos prevails throughout. This is especially so at the play's close, when George is forced to make the ultimate mercy killing, as Lennie's promised land awaits.

The Herald, February 20th 2012


ends





 

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…