Of Mice and Men

Date 6th March 2020
Society St Paul's Amateur Players Adlington
Venue Adlington Community Centre, Railway Road, Adlington, Chorley
Type of Production Play
Director Mike Wignall

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

Based on the classic novella written by John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men tells the tale of two great friends and their struggle to live the American dream. George and Lennie have been travelling together from ranch to ranch for years, working hard to make ends meet and trying to save enough for a place of their own. The two are polar opposites: George is intelligent, quick and small, while Lennie is slow-minded, childlike, and a giant. Though they are different, they care deeply about each other. They have been dreaming for years to save enough for a little land of their own and when they are both hired to a new job, they believe that they may finally achieve their goal. But trouble begins to brew when one of the bosses’ wives becomes too interested in and infatuated by Lennie…tragic, yet beautiful!

When you are told that you have but two months to cast, prepare and rehearse, any play would be a challenge to the most experienced of Directors.  Then, when you read that Mike Wignall (Director) was actually directing his very first production, then the decision to stage this play was an even braver and a far bigger challenge than you would first anticipate!   This play has so many difficult and complex issues to address all of which were dealt with wonderfully well by a competent and enthusiastic cast who were well rehearsed and who had obviously worked hard to create and develop their characters, ensuring that this play was the success that it was!

So, let me immediately congratulate Mike Wignall and his team for their efforts, you should all be proud of what you achieved, it was a challenge that was accepted, met and which produced a great play! 

The cast of ten included nine males and one female all of whom worked well together to create and bring this play to life! Leading the cast were our two ‘wandering farm hands’ ‘George’ and ‘Lennie’ played with great aplomb by Kieron Garlick and Lukas Bennett respectively. Both had great stage presence and provided us with two outstanding portrayals of their respective characters. 'George', although assertive toward ‘Lennie’ is ‘Lennie’s’ best friend and protector and Kieron showed us this from the start! Lukas’s portrayal of ‘George’ was totally believable…full of realistic mannerisms and facial expressions that enhanced the characterisation wonderfully well. Both created their own individual presence, yet they worked very well together and given the amount of time on stage, they were never out of character and appeared to be word perfect… well done guys be ever so proud!

The pair eventually find work on a farm owned by ‘The Boss’ played by Tony Henry. Tony gave us a ‘strong measured performance’ as the ‘no nonsense’, yet ‘fair’, farm owner. His son, ‘Curley’ was the total opposite of his father! Mike Wignall, our debut director, took on this role (another challenge I would suggest) and did a great job. ‘Mean’, ‘aggressive’, a ‘jealous husband’ who takes an instant dislike to both ‘George’ and ‘Lennie’. ‘Curley’s Wife’ was played by Lucia Morrison. Lucia gave us a great portrayal as the ‘flirtatious’ ‘provocative’ ‘lonely wife’ who, after ‘flirting’ with most of the men, encourages ‘Lennie’ to stroke her hair which leads to ‘Lennie’ unwittingly killing her… again congrats to all on job well done!

Oliver Bowler did a great job portraying ‘Slim’ a ‘kind’, ‘helpful’, ‘trustworthy’ Farm Worker. Oliver looked completely at home in this role and made it his own.  His stage presence was excellent as was his diction and accent which never faltered throughout the performance... well done young man!

Simon Eaves gave us a good characterisation of ‘Crooks’, a ‘proud’ yet ‘bitter’ farm hand who gets his name from his ‘stoop and crooked’ back. Simon captured the essence of ‘Crook’s’ character so well; believable at all times... well done sir!

Three further males complete the cast, each with their own story to tell which they did ever so well…Paul Stanley was a perfect fit for his part as the ‘aging farm hand’ ‘Candy’ who lost his hand in an accident and worries about his future and offers his life savings to be part of ‘George and Lennie’s dream’. Barry Heeks was also well cast in the role of ‘Carlsen’ a strong, persuasive farm hand who complains continuously about ‘Candy’s’ dog and who finally convinces ‘Candy’ to let him put the dog out of its misery, shooting the dog in the back of its head… a mirror image of ‘Lennie’s’ death! Harry Cohen was also well cast in the role of ‘Whit’…a young farm hand who sees ‘Slim’ as a leader and looks up to him. Well done to all three!

For the first time St Paul’s Players produced a play that was played ‘in the round’.  The scenes were enacted in the centre of the auditorium with strategically placed bales of hay set in the form a square, which created the ‘working stage area’, another brave move…which paid off…although I will say it did take a little time to get used to seeing the back of an actor’s head when they were speaking!

Major congrats to Stephen Blundell, Sam Heyes (Stage Manager) and Jill Heeks (Assistant Stage Manager) and their crew, for creating and working this new concept and for working alongside Jamie Flavell and Ryan Greenfield (Lighting) to re-arrange the lighting rigs to allow the show to be lit...the lighting worked really well!  We did have a couple of small issues with the sound, none of which affected the overall performance, so congrats to Natalie and Joanna Sweet (Sound).  Props were ‘first class’ and added so much to the performance, congrats to Liz Blundell and Sue Heyes.

Thank you so much for inviting my wife and I, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening and thanks to Graham Cohen for his hospitality throughout… we’re already looking forward to a visit to Holmfirth…love ‘Last of the Summer Wine’!