American writer John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men dramatically comes to life in a splendid performance at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
The play tells the story of migrant workers George and Lennie and the weekend they spend on a ranch where they have received a job. Quick-witted George, played by Stephen Barker Turner, cares for his mentally disabled friend Lennie, played by Jack Willis, as they travel to different job locations.
Meanwhile, gentle-hearted Lennie depends wholly on George for protection, survival and friendship. They hope to realize their dream of owning a plot of land with a garden, livestock and rabbits that Lennie would feed. Yet in the end, Lennie and his grand fascination with soft objects will lead to trouble, despite George's warnings and cautions regarding Lennie's uncontrollable strength.
Under the direction of Liz Diamond, the actors, many of whom have prior acting experience on stage, television or film, give a wonderful portrayal of the lives of Depression-era migrant farm workers.
Turner gives a captivating performance as the strong and swift-minded yet caring George. His acting is complemented by Willis, who plays the childlike Lennie. Willis convincingly plays a mentally ill character; a role he advances as the play moves on. The supporting cast also contributes to the overall appeal of the play. Their characters add subplots that keep the audience's attention throughout George and Lennie's struggle for survival.
The actors deserve commendation for their use of the Arena's simple stage. The round design of the theatre leaves a small wooden platform area in the middle of the theatre. The actors perform on and around this platform, observing invisible boundaries and props in order to make the environment—steps, doors and hills among other things—more believable.
The rugged look of the set, along with the dividing platform revealing a river, help the audience envision what the rest of the scene would look like. The music also adds to the play's theme of gloom.
The great blend of a classic novel, wonderful direction and production mixed with remarkable acting makes Of Mice and Men a must-see play for theater-goers of all ages.
Of Mice and Men is playing at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. until Dec 9. Tickets range from $27 to $45. Limited amounts of tickets are available. For more information, call the Arena Stage box office at 202-488-3300.
Omar Guerrero. Omar Guerrero is will participate this year on Silver Chips for a second year. Guerrero was born in Managua, Nicaragua on April 20, 1984, the baby of the family, including an older brother and sister. The family moved to the United States in 1988 to … More »