Of Mice and Men

On the page, John Steinbeck’s 1937 play may seem predictable, but given a production as eloquent as this one, predictability segues into tragic inevitability. Also, it was a delight to see so many teenagers in the audience of teenagers enraptured by this staging. The tale of huge Lennie Small (here played brilliantly and movingly by Sean Branney), whose massive strength overpowers his limited mental capacity, can only lead to a doom that we anticipate with dread. Lennie is obsessively drawn to small, soft animals, but his brute physical power makes his affectionate caresses accidentally lethal. His loyal companion, George (Andrew Leman), tries vainly to keep Lennie out of trouble as they racket along from job to uncertain job as ranch hands, but when Lennie encounters the boss’s pretty, blond, flirtatious daughter-in-law (Annie Abrams), the outcome can only be catastrophic. Steinbeck’s play depicts the strong, loving, unequal friendship between George and Lennie, and presents an indelible picture of Depression-era life in racially segregated rural California. The ranch hands are depicted with respectful sympathy: the elderly, one-handed Candy (Barry Lynch), the tough, knowing mule-wrangler Slim (Mark Colson), and the crippled black man Crooks (Thomas Boykin). They, and the fine supporting cast, are expertly led by director Rebecca Marcotte on David Robkin and Arthur McBride's the atmospheric unit set. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: March 8. Continues through April 13, 2008

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