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Stellar cast worthy of classic play

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‘Of Mice and Men’
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Oct. 14

The standing ovation given to the “Of Mice and Men” cast at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre opening night was not only well deserved, but a confirmation that Robert Hupp has once again successfully brought John Steinbeck’s words and images to fruition onstage.

The story focuses on the lives of two drifters, George Milton and his simple-minded friend Lennie Small. Lonely and alienated, they cling to each other looking for work as they travel across Northern California. George claims that he is responsible for Lennie because of an accident that left Lennie mentally disadvantaged and therefore unable to care for himself.

As the plot unfolds it seems as if George is just as dependent on Lennie. George desires a sense of belonging, but his obsession with achieving his goal permits him from forming a connection with his closest companion. The characters have somewhat of a partnership, but not a true friendship. They represent man’s pursuit of the American dream and the downfall that will inevitably arise during their plight.

George and Lennie wander from farm to farm working each job intending to quit as soon as they have saved enough money to purchase farmland of their own. Their goal is to someday live off the “fat of the land.” However, the land that they wish to cultivate will never offer enough for them to survive. Steinbeck depicts George and Lennie as victims of economic and social injustice.

Full of pain and discontent, the actors portray their characters with such intensity that the audience almost feels immersed in the gritty atmosphere in which they struggle. The lighting design brilliantly captures the transformation of time. The amber and gold tones slice though the stage illuminating the severe working environment, then flawlessly transition into rose, purple, and blue hues creating the coolness of the still night air. The sunsets are some of the most striking scenes in the production. The set functions as a barn, but reflects much more. The wooden boards painted on the surface are reminiscent of the structures built through programs such as the W.P.A.

All aspects of this production are stellar and definitely worth seeing at least once, if not twice.

— By Jessica Sardashti

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