Review: Of Mice And Men

Touring Consortium Theatre Company
King’s Theatre Edinburgh, 26th-30th April 2016
2 Stars (2 / 5)

Guy don’t need no sense to be a good fella.

Steinbeck’s classic tale about a failure of The American Dream takes the stage as the best laid schemes Of Mice And Men really do go agley for George and Lenny, two farmhands, who struggle to realise them during the bleak period of The Great Depression.

After a sonorous rendition of this land is your land lead by an electric violin and sung by the cast things begin to go amiss. The pacing is all off as the actors race through the dialogue of the first scene, set in the slow countryside of rural California. George (William Rodell) and Lenny (Kristian Phillips) look the part, but their exchanges are too rushed and aggressive. The body language and physicality is alright, but something of the childlike essence of Lenny which the script advocates misses the mark, more closely resembling a charaterisation of a dull bull dog.

The urgency of the piece continues through out – many climatic scenes such an old ranch hand being harassed into allowing his dog – his sole companion – to be shot, are completely thrown to the wind. Performances waver. This tragic foreshadowing of the end of the piece is not capitalised upon. Other scenes that are meant to be urgent, such as the climax of the first act and the accidental murder of the ranch-owners coquettish daughter-in-law were far better handled and successful.

The dialogue, largely lifted verbatim from the book, is so sublime it carries the show through its worst shortcomings. Those unfamiliar with the text will grasp the incandescent essence of the story but will sadly miss out on subtle elements of its true splendor.