With decidedly mixed results, and with D. Martyn Bookwalter’s atmospherically bleak scenic design, director Paul Lazarus has re-set John Steinbeck’s classic around the Bracero Treaty of WWII. Both George (David Noroña) and his developmentally disabled friend, Lennie (Al Espinosa), carry work permits, but little else is mentioned about the massive importation of Mexican field labor, and, despite a mainly Latino cast, most of the cultural flavor is limited to expressions like dios mio and the occasional pendejo. As with Steinbeck’s novel, the Latino field hands are just as racist as their white counterparts toward Crooks (Curtis C.), the black stable hand. And when not reciting their plan to buy a small farm where Lennie can pet the rabbits, George warns Lennie to stay away from Curley (Joshua Bitton) — and, more importantly, away from Curley’s wife (Madison Dunaway in a wan, unconvincing performance). Espinosa is excellent as Lennie, whose merest hand gestures are compelling. Also, Alex Mendoza makes a strong impression as Slim, and the standouts among the supporting cast include Thomas Kopache in a heartbreaking performance as Candy, and Curtis C.’s Crooks, who embodies the thematic loneliness of the original source material.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: May 9. Continues through June 8, 2008
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