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Previews
Of Mice & Men

Of Mice & Men
Corn Stock Winter Playhouse
February 11-12 & 18 - 21
By Liz Scoville

There are few plays that can encompass both the plight of relatable characters and exposure to societal issues, but “Of Mice and Men” fits the bill and then some.

Directed by Paul Gordon, this play adapted from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name opens February 12 at Corn Stock Theatre. “Of Mice and Men” tells the story of George and Lennie, two friends-by-circumstance seeking work in the agricultural valleys of Northern California during the 1930’s depression. It is immediately apparent that George is of sound mind and looking after Lennie, whose good-natured but harmful discretions have landed them both in hot water. As the story unravels, we meet new acquaintances as well as enemies, and by the end of the show the audience is sharply reminded of the gray areas that sometimes appear in matters of morality, friendship, and mercy.

This Corn Stock production takes advantage of the “theatre-in-the-round” layout (audiences on all sides) with ease and effectiveness, with action well-presented from all angles. This action is led by lead actors Chris Leasor (George) and Chris Peterlin (Lennie), who take on their roles with empathy and passion. Leasor’s strong-willed yet warm-hearted portrayal of George highlights the internal conflict he faces in caring for Lennie, and Peterlin’s performance of a gullible and tender man leaves the audience rooting for his dreams to come true.

The supporting actors are just as remarkable in portraying their characters, who each have their own personality to breathe even more life into the performance. Clark Abraham plays the kind-hearted Candy; Kevin Mileur portrays the strict, no-nonsense Boss; Sam Hipp is Curley, son of the boss and an easy troublemaker; Kerri Rae plays the flirty and gentle role of Curley’s wife; Austin Shaw portrays Slim, a level-heated and honorable worker; Jeramie Glass plays the proud and brash role of Carlson; Shane Pankey portrays the eager and comic relief role of Whit; and Eric Gore is Crooks, the mild-mannered and lonely Negro farmhand.

The stellar, diverse acting from the above company is supplemented by spot-on light and sound design, the execution of which emphasizes the gravity of the action unfolding on stage. Minimalist staging and prop usage help to convey the simplicity of the era and to bring focus to the strength of both the acting and the story.

Paul Gordon’s interpretation of “Of Mice and Men” presents a fantastic aesthetic: accents, physicality, and costumes along with the acting and staging bring a sense of unity to the production, and entices the viewer to immerse himself in the story and relate to the plight of the characters. Issues of racism, jealousy, poverty, and more are brought to bear by every character, igniting questions of loyalty and the true meaning of right and wrong. By the end of the second act, where the conflict of the show comes to a head, the audience is left with a reminder of the beauty of humanity’s flaws – and how ugly they can become.

“Of Mice and Men” runs February 12-13 & 18-20 at 7:30 p.m., with a final matinee on February 21 at 2:30 p.m.. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students, and are on sale on Corn Stock’s website at www.cornstocktheatre.com

Posted on February 13, 2016 

 
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