Mice and Men-tors Equity Co-op
Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

Venue: Video In, 1965 Main Street
Dates: 27 - 31 January 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director Bert Steinmanis
Stage manager Melissa C. Powell

In a bare, square space the Mice and Men-tors co-op created a Depression southern California farm environment.  A bunkhouse and other ranch elements are indicated with a minimum of furniture and properties. Steinbeck's dialogue and the audience's imagination supply all else.  Director Bert Steinmanis has trusted his text and produced the ranch and its varied workers and owners. Minimalism is the key.

Itinerant farm labourers, George (Jaime Ogden) and Lennie (Kennedy Goodkey) arrive at the farm after George has schooled the mentally slow but physically powerful Lennie on his behaviour, which includes saying little or, preferably, nothing.  The ranch hands are a friendly lot for the most part, overseen by the disabled, wise and gentle Candy, sympathetically played by Lee Taylor. Slim (Jack Paterson) takes charge in emergencies and Carson, (Glenn Surzyshyn) tends to be abrasive.  There is also a coloured man on the farm who is allowed his own room, and does not have to live the communal life of the bunkhouse.  This is not his choice, but that of his fellow employees.  He is a studious man and has dreams of educating himself. Tom Pickett stepped in at the last moment to assume this role and gave a very convincing performance, letting his bitter  

feelings of rejection corrupt his otherwise kindly disposition.  The boss, Curly, (Michael Shore) is short, short tempered and belligerent, but he has a desirable wife who is beautiful, but bored with her isolation

She is lonely and has dreams of escaping to the city to become a film star. In the meantime she amuses herself trying to seduce the ranch hands. The only woman in the cast, attractive Lara Rose Tansey lights up the stage but never overplays her part.

Lennie and George have dreams of making enough in wages to buy a small holding of their own, where they can homestead and Lennie can have pets, particularly rabbits.  Here they can live their own lives.  And Lennie's fatal propensity for over caressing his pets can be kept in check.  Their dreams are shared with Candy, who has money in the bank and would love to join the other two in ownership and do his share.

Tragedy intervenes and the dreams of all are shattered. The dramatic climax, beautifully written by Steinbeck, fell short of tension and intensity on the opening night. This will probably be rectified as the run of the play progresses.

Of Mice and Men runs at Video In, 1965 Main Street, Jan. 27 - Jan. 31, 2004 at 8.00 p.m. with a matinee Sunday Jan 31 at 2.00 p.m. Call 604-742-1471 for information and reservations.

2004, Jane Penistan