LIMA - You probably read John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” in high school or college. It’s up pretty high on most required reading lists.
Now it’s time to see the play showing at the Encore Theatre. Those characters — George and Lennie — they were vivid in the book, and they are just as memorable brought to life on the stage.
This is a given, since Encore’s particular production is based on the original story, and Steinbeck deliberately crafted the book — it’s structure and dialogue — to resemble acts in a play. He meant it to be on stage, so if the book is required reading in school, then the play should be required viewing.
And since high school or college might have been some time ago, here’s a little refresher, without giving away too many of the important bits:
George and Lennie are a couple of migrant workers in Depression-era California. George looks after his friend Lennie, who has a developmental disability. He is an innocent soul, but seems to attract trouble through misunderstandings. That’s why the two have found work at a new ranch, wanting only to work and someday own a place of their own. These dreams keep them going and give hope to other workers, but trouble finds them again and George must make a decision that will affect both of them.
It’s a complex and simple story at the same time, and is based on basic human elements like friendship, fear, loneliness and hope. If you remember the ending, you’ll remember how powerful it is. Seeing it on stage, even knowing the outcome, is still worth seeing.
The Encore cast is solid. The main characters are left to veteran performers and they are seasoned enough to know what they are doing, and do it right. Rick Workman, who plays George, and PS Luhn as Lennie get across Steinbeck’s important themes and emotions without it feeling forced.
Other cast members include Charlie Diefenbacher as Candy, Christopher Butturff as the mean-spirited Curly, Everett Collier as Crooks, Kedryn Carpenter as Curly’s wife, Ryan Mooney as Slim, Gary Adkins as Whit and Daniel Hawk as the boss.
The set design is interesting in itself, and worth mentioning. A rotating back drop on wheels moves for each scene …it might sound awkward, but it really isn’t. The sets were detailed and realistic, and the wheels sped up the scene changes.
There is some rough language, racism and other adult themes, however, but it’s still important to experience the performance. These are just more of those human elements that Steinbeck is so genius in expressing.
“Of Mice and Men” is 8 p.m. today, Sept. 21 and 22; and 2 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 23. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for youth and $9 for seniors at 419-223-8866 or online at www.amiltellers.org.