Of Mice and Men

Playwright: John Steinbeck
Director: Frank Thompson
Producer: Stage Door Productions
Dates: Oct 9 – Oct 18, 2008

Of Mice and Men
ALEC CLAYTON – Tacoma News Tribune
Published: 10/14/08

There’s seldom if ever a week when I don’t see one or more plays, unless I double up and see two or more one week and take the next week off. Yet with all of this theater going there are plays in the South Sound region I wish I could see and don’t. This week there have been a couple: “Endgame,” which I blogged about just a few days ago, and Stage Door Productions’ performance of the Steinbeck classic “Of Mice and Men.”

From SeattlePerforms.com
Published: 10/13/08

This is not a play where you speak to and address the audience’s funny bone, unless you’re thinking of the forms of irony we see and hear in this play. This play speaks to our sense of injustice, our humanity or lack of… It speaks to our historical and present consciousness. Watching this play, I ask myself… “Have I grown? Has my social consciousness grown over the years? Have I grown more tolerable and diversified in how I relate to people? Am I a kinder person? Are people kinder to me? This play makes me think. It should make us all think.

The entire cast reached into the chest of each person sitting in the audience last night and squeezed their hearts with a not-so-subtle reminder of our humanity, our weaknesses and our strengths. There was a special spark in each cast member. Please know… the work put into this and the caliber of talent totally shines from the stage. I felt like I had won the lottery by having the privilege to watch this cast work.

I’d like to point out the many wonderful points in this play. I could hear each cast member clearly. I was sitting in the rear section! The sound effects were excellent

The sets are perfect! They are simple, yet so effective. They create the scene, but don’t overwhelm or steal attention from the story itself. My favorite prop has got to be that awesome little bonfire! It looks so real… and when “George” hits that flint and blows on the sparks … I swear I want to go get some hotdogs to roast! I felt the first scene was flawless and set the tone for even greater moments to come. Lighting and cues were right on! Wow!

• I could hear and see the desperation in each character just trying to survive… to reach for that promise of a future. (Anything would be better than what they had back in the Depression days of 1937 in an agricultural valley in Northern California.)
• I could feel Candy’s need to hold on to something he’s loved for so long… his beloved dog… the only thing that has loved him back unconditionally. I could feel his fear of what was going to happen to him as he aged, while having only one hand… what choices did they have back then… if any? Doug Nielson was outstanding as Candy!
• I could feel the empathy Slim, Whit and George had for Candy while Carlson continued to badger Candy about his dog and just before the gun shot rang out. You could cut the tension with a knife. There was a visible, knee-jerk, jump from the cast on stage reacting to the gun shot. Powerful!
• I could feel George’s affection, pain and frustration for Lennie. Having taken care of a grown, special-needs brother-in-law for a couple of years in my home and I could so relate to George’s character. “George” balanced all those emotions along with his own dream for a better future with brilliant portrayal. George fought to muster up the needed patience to deal with Lennie. Christian Doyle nailed the part of George.
• I could feel the “Boss’s” authority, yet his underlying desire to share in casual conversation…only unable to do so because of his position. It showed in his shoulders, his stride, facial expressions, his voice and when he removed his hat. It’s lonely at the top. This part is convincingly played by Frank Thompson.
• I could feel Curly’s wife’s character’s loneliness and her desperation to survive, to feel special and to connect with someone. I believed her completely when she said she wasn’t a bad girl. My heart broke when she talked about her father. Emily Olson sold this character to the audience and they embraced her.
• Curley was played exactly how he should have been played… The character of Curley is a spoiled, hateful, insecure, boastful, nasty person and I honestly don’t know how such an incredibly nice person could play that part as well as Scott Buckmiller did. Bravo, Scott!
• I could sense a proud confidence and “grass roots” character in Carlson. He has a ruggedness that fit the time and situation and superbly played by Kevin Flatt.
• I felt that “Slim” was the hope for all of our futures… He represented the good, the steady, the conscience and intelligence of humanity. Brian Lewis’ thoughtful portrayal of Slim was perfect.
• Crooks’ bitterness, shrewdness, twisted humor and anger was justifiable and played brilliantly. The low light, makeup and caliber of acting drew me in to make me believe in Crooks. Samuel Kyles has an older man’s soul and played the part superbly.
• I felt Whit’s youth, energy and day-to-day enjoyment of life in general. He’d probably enjoy himself no matter where he was. His smile is contagious! This character will soon have a ranch of his own complete with a wife and 6 sons! Right on Gabriel Trivelas for a brilliant performance.
• I don’t think anyone could play the part of “Lennie” as well as Scott C. Brown does. His intense concentration to portray a mentally challenged man is phenomenal. I find myself holding my breath while watching him perform. I am in awe of him and at a loss of words to define my admiration and appreciation of his art. When Lennie cries, he cries from the confusion of a man-child and I cry with him. When he hopes, we all hope with him and we can visualize him tending those multicolored rabbits.
• I cannot leave yet without mentioning how perfect Ellie who played Candy’s dog was. She is owned and trained by Lori McKenna and all the cast members fell in love with Ellie.
Plays like this, with such a cast…even down to Ellie the dog, are no accident. It takes a very skilled and multitalented person to put it all together with vision, wisdom, heart and great soul. That would be Frank Thompson. Congratulations on a superb play. May your vision go on forever.

From SeattlePerforms.com
Published: 10/12/08

Stage Door Productions in Enumclaw has produced a powerful telling of Steinbeck’s classic American story of love and dreams.

Artistic Director, Frank Thompson’s direction is outstanding. He sets his characters upon the very bones of the story and lets it unfold. The scene with Carlson and Candy’s dog is masterful.

The cast is excellent to stellar. Scott C. Brown’s portrayal of Lenny is riveting. His ticks and mannerisms make this iconic character real and strangely familiar. Likewise, Christian Doyle’s George is played with an intense honesty. The result is real, intimate, and ultimately heart wrenching.

Brian Lewis (Slim), Emily Olsen (Curley’s Wife), Kevin Flatt (Carlson) and Samuel Kyles (Crooks) intensified every scene they were in. Each brought a great deal of nuance and specificity to their characters. I especially liked Gabriel Trivelas as Whit. His character was carefully crafted and skillfully played – not only as the voice of temptation and youth – but also as the voice of compassion and desperation as the previously mentioned dog scene plays out.

The scenery was simple and effective, especially the fire sequence in the first scene.

Make it to this show – you will not be disappointed. After the play’s final moment, the audience sat shell shocked, found their feet, and burst into applause. Does it get any better than that?

Published on February 24, 2009 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  

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