Saturday, March 19, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
by Roger Smith

John Steinbeck took the name for one of his most famous works from Robert Burns’ poem, “To a Mouse.” As we all know, our plans do oft go awry, and for George and Lennie – the main characters in the current production of the G. B. Community Theatre at the Ashtabula Arts Center – that seemed to be a way of life. Their dream of working up a ‘stake’ and buying a piece of land where they could farm and live off the fat of the land was always just a dream, until they found their way to the next ranch where they just might be able to see that piece of land just across the river.
Directed by Joe Petrolia, “Of Mice and Men” is a tragic tale of two migrant ranch workers in California during the Great Depression. George and Lennie are friends, and because of Lennie’s mental capabilities, George has become his caretaker. Lennie has a penchant for touching and petting soft things – his downfall.
“Of Mice and Men” can be a study of characters like no other. The central character around which everything eventually turns is Lennie, portrayed by Clay Nielsen.
Nielsen obviously worked long and hard on this role, for his performance was nothing short of outstanding. His friend and caretaker, George, was played by Michael Breeze.
No stranger to the local stages, Breeze’s interpretation of George was excellent; he convinced the audience that he truly cared about Lennie.
Marvin L. Mallory, as Crooks, wove his feelings of resentment and hopefulness into his words and his mannerisms like the professional he is. Jim Powers, cast in the role of the gentle and understanding Slim, did first-rate work in his portrayal. The sadness and hopelessness which surrounded Candy was made evident by David Bucci.
The character of Curley (Raymond Perts) wore his arrogance like a new set of clothing, overdressed to the point of being comical.
Ryann Angelotti, as the only woman on stage, didn’t convince me (or any of the other characters on stage) that all she was interested in was someone to talk to. Her husband, Curley, went looking for her in the bunkhouse many times. Angelotti let the dubious side of Curley’s wife show through.
Larry Gasch as Carlson, Denny Dixon as Whit, and Tom Udell as Boss all were good in their roles, simply adding to the enjoyment of the evening’s performance.
The language is strong in “Of Mice and Men.” That not withstanding, the production which lasts a bit over 2 hours is worth the visit to the Arts Center. The show runs tonight and tomorrow night, with the curtain going up at 8:00 p.m. To inquire about tickets, please phone the Ashtabula Arts Center Box Office at 440-964-3396.


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