Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Striking, disturbing and beautiful

Of Mice and Men

Swansea Little Theatre , Dylan Thomas Theatre Swansea , June-12-08
Of Mice and Men by Swansea Little Theatre When such a strong cast and talented director unite to capture the power and humanity of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” you’re in for a treat.

To those familiar with the story, this production still possesses its original shock factor thanks to well crafted scenes of thrilling fights (complete with pouring blood!) and touching moments that depict the unreachable American dream. Authentic costume and set combine with convincing acting to create a believable piece that pulls you into George and Lennie’s world from the start.

Though simple, the character of Lennie is hard to take on (overdone it can so easily mean embarrassment for the audience), but Steve Maddern carries it out perfectly. Fittingly burly for the role, you can’t help but feel affection for the childlike character he creates, and with this role played correctly, the ending is all the more heart wrenching.

James Morgan is superbly compelling as George and carries the play with his sincere performance and stage presence. The noble Slim is played by Stuart Graham with great poise, while Brian Willis gives a bit of spirit to the usually pathetic, one-handed Candy.

Curley, played by Edward Llewelyn, exudes wickedness through his sneering expressions that make your skin crawl whenever he steps on stage. Rhian Matthews plays the lucky lady married to this contemptuous man. While she accomplishes the characterisations of the flirtatious tart the men believe her to be, it is her ability to gain the audience’s sympathy in her desperate loneliness that is truly impressive.

Others fare well in their respective roles. Like Brian Willis’s Candy, Adrian Clarke’s Crooks represents brilliantly the isolation of the rejected. The Boss, performed by Bruce Burniston, is suitably dislikeable and self-important, Tim Pittman’s Carlson provides a snapshot of the man’s man, while Michael Corbally is delightfully humorous as Whit.

In a production that is memorable, striking, disturbing and beautiful I have only one concern - if young director Clare Friswell continues to produce plays at such high standards, I’m afraid Swansea Little Theatre might lose her to the West End.

The play continues until Saturday 14th June.

Reviewed by: Ella-Louise Gilbert

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