“Of Mice and Men” is being given a first-rate production by New York State Theatre Institute. Directed with tender loving care and a great deal of skill by Ed. Lange, this great American classic gets the treatment it richly deserves. Costumes (June Wolfe), set (Victor Becker), lighting (Matthew E. Adelson) and sound (100% Sound Design) are nothing less than Broadway quality.
The play, adapted by John Steinbeck from his 1937 novel, is layered with time-honored themes; friendship and loneliness; dreams for the future; race and class consciousness; love and sacrifice.
‘Of Mice and Men’
WHERE: New York State Theatre Institute, 37 First Street, Troy
WHEN: Through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20-$16
MORE INFO: 274-3256
The story is built on the relationship of George (David Bunce) and Lennie (John Romeo). They are migrant farm workers who share a dream of having their own place someday. George is the “smart” half of the friendship; Lennie is childlike, not bright and forgets things. They are deeply protective of each other.
They arrive at their new job where they meet Candy (Joel Aroeste), The Boss (David Baecker), Curley, the boss’s son (David M. Girard), and Curley’s wife (Mary Jane Hansen). Lennie, his animal instincts poised, determines that the farm is a “mean place.” He wants to leave. Listen closely to the dialogue and you will hear (and you do “hear” great plays) the story’s outcome. You know what is about to happen, you just don’t know how it will happen.
In the case of “Of Mice and Men,” however, so familiar to readers of literature, movie buffs, and theatergoers, almost everyone foresees the grim events that will play themselves out. Still, the NYSTI production is so finely tuned, so powerfully acted, that, even if you do know the story, you will not want to miss it.
Bunce masterfully underplays his love for Lennie, with macho swipes at Lennie’s shortcomings and how easy George’s life would be without the burden of having to care for Lennie. Romeo plays Lennie as a wide-eyed, gentle giant who “doesn’t know any rules” and lives for George’s approval.
In this superb cast, Joel Aroeste does some of his finest work as the one-handed, washed-out Candy. Kevin Craig West plays Crooks, the Black “stable buck,” with the intensity of a man who knows his worth and protects it with an armor of anger and false subservience.
Eric Rose is Slim, the jerk-line skinner. Rose invests the character with dignity, humanity and passion. Hansen plays the unnamed “Curley’s wife” with a fine mix of innocence and flirtatiousness. She allows us to know that the character simply wants someone to care about her.
Girard is given the difficult task of playing the choleric Curley. He does not make the mistake of shouting out or growling his lines and he is not merely angry. He layers this most unsympathetic of roles with anguish and frustration. Ron Komora plays Carlson as an obnoxious boor, which is what he is and Aaron Marquise, as Whit, is the younger, less-tested version of what these men have become. Baecker gives fine support as The Boss.
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