There’s a timeless magic about Of Mice and Men - making it a must-see at the Grand Theatre until Saturday. John Steinbeck’s tale was penned in the 30s, set in the 20s, yet resonates today.
It’s a deceptively simple story of love and loyalty between misfit itinerant workers George and Lennie scraping a living on a dustbowl and dreaming of living off the fat of the land and finding a pet Lennie can pat without crushing it.
Even a first timer to this curricula classic can see it’s going to end in tears, the surprise coming when those long familiar with the work still shed them. It’s the death of the American dream from a more innocent pre-Trump age and a gritty realism which helped shape writers such as Cormac McCarthy.
The nuanches run dark and deep in the Birmingham Rep’s production, by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, but the delivery proved how hard it is to pitch projection to a new audience from a different stage on tour. The effortless whimsy and stage presence of veteran Dudley Sutton as old timer Candy added gravitas but ultimately it’s the pathos which triumphs - thanks to fine actors at the heart of the story line who deserved more prolonged applause than they received.