(Image: Ellie Kurttz for the Birmingham Rep website)
I went home for reading week last week and after spending many hours writing essays, referencing and reading, I went to see the Birmingham Rep's production of Of Mice and Men. I, like many people, studied the book by John Steinbeck at GCSE and loved it so I was really excited to see it adapted for the stage.
For those of you who don't know, the story follows two men called George and Lennie who are struggling to find work during the Great Depression in America. They do everything together and are very much dependent on each other. Being set in the Great Depression, their story is not without its troubles and doesn't end very happily. (That's as much of a spoiler as I'll give!) I thought the whole production was really well executed. The two leads, Michael Legge and Benjamin Dilloway as George and Lennie respectively gave really strong performances, particularly Dilloway as he really made you warm to Lennie and feel so sorry for him. The two leads had so much chemistry and you could really believe that they were close companions. I thought that James Hayes who played Candy was really good as well; he is an old worker at the ranch George and Lennie end up at and he really characterised the whole futility of the American Dream which is what the book is all about. Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end I found myself getting so tense watching it as I was hoping there would be some miracle whereby it all ended happily!
The set was really effective, the stage was just made of exposed wooden planks which made it look really rustic and convincingly like a ranch in the 1920s. They changed it at the interval as well so there was a huge wooden chute in the middle of the stage which ended up being used for a very dramatic climax. I also thought the use of props was really clever; Candy has an old dog in the book and so they had made a dog out of jute or something similar and the actors manipulated it so it looked as though it were really alive. I thought that was really imaginative and this kind of rudimentary prop added to the whole rustic vibe, I felt.
I would thoroughly recommend it but I've just noticed that the run of this has now finished so I haven't timed this post very well! I wanted to share it anyway because I loved the production so much. Perhaps if it was very popular they may bring it back, so keep your eyes peeled...