“OF MICE AND MEN:” A MEMORABLE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE
By Bonnie Goldberg
When two men have a symbiotic relationship, closer than brothers, more than companions, with one acting as guardian and protector, neither one well educated or financially fixed, you have George and Lennie, the two protagonists of John Steinbeck’s emotionally charged “Of Mice and Men.”
West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park will be providing a seriously special production of this unusual male bonding until Sunday, October 28.
This tale of the Great Depression stars Jed Aicher as Lennie Small, a gentle giant of a man who doesn’t realize his own strength, so that he innocently loves things to death. A pet mouse, a new puppy, a beautiful woman, are all cuddled until they are lifeless, accidental victims of his uncontrollable caring.
Jed Aicher inhabits Lennie’s skin, becoming this teddy bear whose simplemindedness is his undoing. His best friend is George Milton, sensitively portrayed by an alternately infinitely patient and easily irritable Shannon Michael Wamser, tries to protect Lennie from his bad deeds. Together this pair of migrant farm workers dreams of buying a small ranch of their own, with a cow, chickens, some crops and a hutch of soft skinned rabbits for Lennie to tend and touch. “Living off the fat of the land” will be possible if they work hard and save their stake, especially if they team up with Candy (Robert Britton), a man they meet at their latest job who has half of the money they need to capture their future.
Soon they are swept up in the intrigues of ranch life with Crooks (Clark Beasley Jr.), Carlson (Ted D’Agnostino), Slim (Dustin Fontaine), Whit (Harrison Greene), the Boss (Jonathan Ross), the boss’s son Curley (Tony Knotts) and Curley’s pretty new wife (Kimberley Shoniker). Inevitably trouble comes to call and George must act one last time, out of love, to protect his friend.
Sean Harris memorably directs this stirring drama on a versatile bunkhouse set created by Tina Louise Jones. For tickets ($22.50-32.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ex. 10 or online at www.playhouseonpark.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Come on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. to A.C. Petersens Restaurant next door to be wined and dined by singing waiters from Playhouse on Park.
Watch how hopes can tumble into despair even when they seem momentarily to be just within reach.