AISLE SAY San Francisco


by John Steinbeck
Directed by Robert Kelley
Presented by TheatreWorks
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St., Mountain View, CA / (650) 403-1960

Reviewed by Judy Richter

In a situation where it's usually every man for himself, two itinerant farm workers who travel together are considered lucky in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." In TheatreWorks' production, Jos Viramontes is George and AJ Meijer is his pal, Lennie, as the two start working on a ranch near Soledad in California's Central Valley in 1937. They aren't equals, though, because George has to look after Lennie, who's too strong and too dumb for his own good. The childlike Lennie wants to do right, but he has a penchant for soft furry things like mice and puppies that he kills unintentionally while petting them.

George and Lennie also are different from their fellow ranch hands because they have a somewhat realistic dream of owning their own piece of land where they can raise crops and animals. Their dream comes even closer to reality when another worker, Candy (Gary Martinez), offers to chip in his savings if he can join in with them.

The other workers are a generally friendly lot, but the temperamental Curley (Harold Pierce), son of the boss, has recently married an attractive young woman who hangs around with the workers more than they or he would like. Curley's wife (Lena Hart) says she's just lonesome, and she has her own dreams of a movie career in Hollywood.

In addition to these characters' dreams, the issue of racism arises in the person of Crooks (Charles Branklyn), a crippled black man who is consigned to living in the barn and who isn't allowed to mix with the other men.

The play's tragic outcome is foreshadowed in several scenes. In the meantime, scenes between George and Lennie tend to be similar, perhaps because Meijer's performance as Lennie is so one-dimensional. His reactions become predictable. Other characters are more successful in this production, directed by artistic director Robert Kelley. Martinez is especially effective as old Candy, while Chad Deverman endows Slim with both perceptiveness and leadership. The other actors also do well, including Michael Ray Wisely as both the boss and Carlson and Josiah Polhemus as Whit.

Production values are high with the set by Tom Langguth, costumes by Allison Connor, lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt (the sunset in the first scene is nice), sound by Jeff Mockus and fight direction by Jonathan Rider.

"Of Mice and Men" is one of the classics of American literature, but this production moves a bit too slowly to do it full justice.

For More Information
Return to Home Page

  • Road (National) Tour Review Index
  • New York City & Environs Theatre Review Index
  • Berkshire, Massachusetts Theatre Review Index
  • Boston Area Theatre Review Index
  • Florida Theatre Review Index
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities) Theatre Review Index
  • Philadelphia & Environs Theatre Review Index
  • San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Review Index
  • Seattle Area Theatre Review Index
  • Toronto, Ontario (Canada) Index