Last night at Imperial Theatre, Saint John Theatre Company previewed their latest production, Of Mice and Men. The play, directed by Dean Turner, is based on the famous novella of the same name written by John Steinbeck.
It’s the story of two men – George and Lenny – as they drift from job to job in Depression-era California. George is smart, capable and dreams of a better life. Lenny is strong as a bull but has the mind of a young child. The two travel together, with George looking out for Lenny’s welfare along the way. The two meet other dreamers at their new ranch job, plans are hatched but as they so often do, their best laid plans quickly go awry.
At its core, Of Mice and Men is a story about loneliness and the desire for human connection, a theme that resonates even in today’s high tech world. People are more accessible to us than ever, yet so many of us feel disconnected. In the end, we’re all just dreamers, like so many of the characters in this play.
Brian Dobbelsteyn gives a truly stunning performance as the slow-witted Lenny. His performance is worth the price of admission, alone. And it’s heartbreaking to watch Lenny try to navigate a world so wholly unequipped to care for his needs. Guest actor to SJTC, Marty Burt, plays George and is the perfect counterpoint to Lenny. The two men play well off each other. Audiences get the sense that despite his gruff persona, George cares a great deal for Lenny. And for his part, Lenny provides comfort and much needed levity in George’s life.
Dwayne Keating plays the antagonist Curley and Sarah Rankin holds her own as the only woman in the cast, as Curley’s misunderstood wife. Other notable characters include Doug Fillmore as the ranch Boss, Gilbert Boyce as Candy, Rob Jeffrey as Slim, T.J Rogers as Whit and Vince Gregg as Carlson. Prominent Canadian stage actor Walter Borden makes his SJTC debut and buoys the play with his flawless performance as Crooks. He may not have many scenes but delivers the most powerful lines of the show, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who it is as long as he’s with you. I tell you a guy gets too lonely, he gets sick“.
The show is not politically correct, by any means, and audiences should be prepared for that. The language used may seem shocking in today’s world, but is necessary to the telling of the story. In order to understand what these characters are feeling, we must first understand the world in which they are living.
Of Mice and Men is a well produced show that benefits from some wonderful performances. And if you are not familiar with the story, now’s your chance, as it’s touring the region. The production has already completed performances in Sussex and can be seen in Saint John through Saturday. After that, the show will be moving on to St. Stephen and Fredericton in the coming weeks.
For more information, visit Saint John Theatre Company.