John Steinbeck's Depression-era drama 'Of Mice and Men' practically qualifies as an octogenarian, having been created in a 1937 novella. Its theatrical version is occasionally revived, though rarely with the force and involvement now on display in its current incarnation at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.
John Steinbeck's Depression-era drama "Of Mice and Men" practically qualifies as an octogenarian, having been created in a 1937 novella. Its theatrical version is occasionally revived, though rarely with the force and involvement now on display in its current incarnation at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.
Director Michael Serna captures the fears and frustrations of Steinbeck's downward-spinning tale of two itinerant ranch hands, living from one temporary job to the next, their hopes kept buoyant by the dream of someday owning their own farm and living, as they continue to put it, "on the fat of the land."
There is little fat to be had when first we meet George (Angel Correa), a fast-talking dreamer with his eyes on the prize, and his dull-witted companion Lennie (Peter Hilton), a gentle giant whose undisciplined strength periodically crushes the breath from smaller life forms. He's an albatross around the neck of George, who doesn't have the heart to break their bond.
Correa writhes in frustration as he attempts to function both as farmworker and controlling agent for the hapless Lennie, while holding his companion in thrall with visions of a house and land all their own. He skillfully treads the path between these two duties, mounting a staunch defense of his companion's abilities when challenged by fellow workers.
Hilton, whose rabbit-loving character always means well but usually creates havoc, delivers an outstanding performance. He renders the pathetic Lennie empathetic and believable, capable of extreme affection or uncontrolled violence when provoked. He is the heart and soul of the Costa Mesa production.
Michael Dale Brown, as the aging and infirm dog lover Candy, offers an engaging and thoughtful account, eagerly agreeing to join the pair on their dream quest. Mauricio Zamora is strong in the essentially one-layered volcanic Curley, whose bored, flirtatious wife is beautifully played by Kelsey Olson.
Other characters in George and Lennie's orbit include the affable Slim (Mark Tillman), the staunch Carlson (Stefan C. Marchand) and the bombastic boss (Bill Carson), all quite effective. Of particular note is the black "stable buck" Crooks, richly enacted by Van Hudson Jr.
The sparse but effective setting is nicely designed by director Serna, who also contributed to set construction and publicity. Ryan Linhardt's lighting effects lend a properly downbeat tone to the production.
"Of Mice and Men" harkens back to a time and place where people lived on the edge with limited wealth or possessions. It's a compelling history lesson at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.
TOM TITUS reviews local theater.
IF YOU GO
What: "Of Mice and Men"
Where: Costa Mesa Playhouse, 611 Hamilton St., Costa Mesa
When: Closing performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $18 to $22
Information: (949) 650-5269
Copyright © 2016, Daily PilotTheater
- Bruce Springsteen says he was 'crushed' by depression
- ‘Grapes of Wrath’ author John Steinbeck’s eldest son Thomas dies
- Country musician Jason DeShaw offers message of hope and recovery
- Alberta sees largest drop in home construction investment in Canada
- Photographer Chronicles Her Husband's Depression Through Intimate Portraits
- Brett Ryan, charged in crossbow killings, had history of 'unhealthy romantic relationships'
- Brazil's President Rousseff ousted from office by Senate
- Why celebrity accounts of depression are vital
- 'You're the Worst' creator Stephen Falk on mental health, abortion and comedy
- Selena Gomez’s Health: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
- Pedro Almodovar, James Franco films flesh out TIFF 2016 lineups
- John Steinbeck's son, fellow author Thomas Steinbeck dies at 72
You might also like
- The DNC Favored Hillary Clinton Over Bernie Sanders. Where's The Outrage?
- Sunken Virgin Mary Statue Makes Fleeting Appearance Above Ground
- 11 Tweets That Sum Up The Absurdity of The Burkini Ban
- HUFFPOST HILL - GOP Lawmakers Break From Ignoring Strongly Worded Letters To Write Strongly Worded Letter
- Parse This: Glaring Clarity In The Second Amendment
- Pennywise The Clown Gets A Terrifying New Look For New 'It' Film
- Donald Trump To Bring Adviser With Russia Ties To Classified Briefing
- Explorers In Poland Are Digging For Legendary Nazi Gold
- How Amy Schumer Confused Anger For Passion In Abusive Past Relationship
- JT Surprised A Bride On Her Wedding Day WITHOUT A Suit And Tie
- David Bowie And Iman's Daughter Gets Sweet Birthday Tribute From Mom
- You’ll Never Guess Why Olympic Swimmers Put Gelatin in Their Hair
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- Calendar: Highlights from around town
- Tribute at Alex Theatre to honor the Band
- The Radical Power Of Lana Del Rey's Smile
- Inside One Female Photographer's Mission To Normalize The Nude Male Body
- New 'Serial' Podcast, 'S-Town,' Just Debuted All Its Episodes At Once
- 'Books Not Bombs' Initiative Promotes Education For Syrian Scholars
- How One Grandma's Modest Closet Found Its Way Into The Met
- In 1981, Margaret Atwood Made A Stirring Case For Investing In Culture
- White Artist's Painting Of Emmett Till Sparks Protest, Controversy And A Viral Hoax
- Despite Death Threats, Nazi-Themed Trump Billboard Artist Plans More
- Relive Your College Years With This Thoughtful, Hilarious Novel
- Some Theories On Trump's Bizarre Misuse Of Quotation Marks
- Gorgeous Portraits Capture Sisterhood Among Muslim American Teenagers
- Hundreds Of Stuffed Animals At The Jewish Museum Pay Unlikely Tribute To Immigrants
- Here's How You Can Help Fight Street Harassment With Public Art
- Artist Paints Interracial Couples Just Being, Together
- Jane Austen Has Become An Alt-Right Icon, Somehow
- Photographer Chronicles The Glamorous Hairstyles Of West Africa's Beauty Salons
- 23 Recent Books By Women You Should Read ASAP
- Arts Advocates Denounce Proposed Elimination Of The NEA And NEH