The UK tour of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ has landed in Wimbledon this week and Selladoor Worldwide’s production in association with The Marlowe Theatre is a wonderfully gripping re-telling of this much loved story.
The backdrop is 1930s America, right in the midst of the Great Depression. It’s a story of friendship, focusing on the relationship between the two central characters George and Lennie. It’s full of hopes and dreams that unfortunately in this setting, the life of migrant workers, are somewhat unreachable.
Director Guy Unsworth has created a traditional and powerful stage production of Steinbeck’s work. He sensitively shows that the huge themes that were relevant 80 years ago when the story was written are still relevant today, all the while maintaining great detail in the storytelling.
The set and costumes are beautifully designed by David Woodhead. The simplicity of the design allows you to focus on the story and character relationships whilst never failing to keep you in their world. Credit must also go to Bretta Gerecke (lighting desgin) and Benjamin Grant (sound design) as all elements of the design of the show are so effectively coherent and lend themselves perfectly to the storytelling.
A real highlight of the show is Mark Aspinall’s stunning score. The thrilling music he has composed adds intensity and energy to the scenes. The music almost becomes an extra character, a narrator if you like, making sense of the action.
The unlikely friendship of Lennie and George is beautifully played by Matthew Wynn and Richard Keightley. Matthew Wynn balances brilliantly Lennie’s warm, child-like persona with his threatening intensity and Richard Keightley is strong, caring and incredibly protective as George.
The ensemble of supporting actors including Cameron Robertson as Slim and Kamran Darabi-Ford as Curley help to maintain the pressure of living as a migrant during the Great Depression at the fore front of the story. Rosemary Boyle gives a beautiful performance as Curley’s Wife and more than holds her own as the only female in a company of men. However the fact that the one female character in the play is named as someone’s wife rather than having a name of her own feels very dated and may cause a stir throughout the 2018 audience. On the other hand keeping those elements to the play that are specific and traditional to the place and time that it is set does highlight just how far we have moved on as a society.
This brand new production of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice And Men’ remains true to the text and as one of the nation’s best loved novels it is well worth catching this wonderful new staging.
Of Mice And Men plays the New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday 24th March. To book your tickets click here.