31st Oct 2013
On Thursday night I dragged the Reluctant Teenager (he has had something of a relapse lately) off to the Royalty Theatre to see Of Mice and Men. This is a story he read and loved, and has just studied for his GCSE English (the English studying being the main reason for his reluctance).
Of Mice and Men is a simple story, with complex undertones. It is about responsibility and friendship, social class and prejudice, hardship and aspiration. There is a lot to get across in a very short time in a stage play and it poses quite a challenge to any production team. The team at the Royalty have certainly done it justice. This is no play of two dimensional stereotypes, each character is distinct and convincingly played. The part of Lennie is the most difficult and crucial to the play - a grown man with the mentality of a child, incredibly strong and unable to understand the consequences of his own actions. The whole play rests on this role being played credibly and I am glad to say John Appleton did so brilliantly. I was also impressed by David Farn playing Candy. I was less sure about the character of George - I hadn't quite worked him out, though my son tells me this is the whole point - he is full of contradictions, so it would seem Billy Towers got him just right too.
Two scenes that stood out were the tension scenes - the guys in the bunkhouse trying to play cards while waiting for the sound of a gunshot, and the final scene, again, waiting for a gunshot. The tension in both scenes was almost unbearable.
This felt like a much more professional production to me. The stage set was good, and cleverly transformed between the three scenes, lighting and sound were used to good effect enhancing the atmosphere and mood of the play. All the cast put in good performances.
My only criticism is not directed at the cast but at the audience - they applauded too soon at the end so that the final image of George standing on his own with the lights behind him, as he had been at the start of the play lost some of it's impact, had the auditorium remained quiet till the lights dimmed it been a very powerful, haunting closing image.
That however is just my opinion - and early applause is better than none, and perhaps the director (Andrew Barella) would not have minded too much?
Tonight (2nd Nov) is the final show. If you can book a last minute ticket then I would encourage you to do so - the curtain goes up at 7.30pm