Of Mice and Men

A well-made, well-acted staging of Steinbeck's classic, for the 100th anniversary of the author's birth

Details

Through Aug. 31

Tickets are $15-20

296-9179

www.actorstheatresf.org

Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F.

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John Steinbeck would've been 100 this year, and in honor of the native Californian's centennial birthday Actors Theatre is doing Of Mice and Men, a play based on Steinbeck's classic novel. Almost anyone who took lit classes in high school will remember the story of George and Lenny, two migrant farm workers who become unlikely friends through circumstance rather than commonalities. The pair travel from one place to the next through California's Central Valley, looking for work and dreaming of owning their own piece of land; George is the brains behind the tag-team operation, while the oaflike Lenny (who is mentally disabled) is the brawn. Lenny's main problem is his lack of verbal and physical restraint, which when coupled with his love of small furry animals and other soft-feeling things continuously gets him into unpleasant situations. The play is long, but the tragic payoff at the end is worth the time, as are several of the performances. Artistic Director Chris Phillips does a wonderful job in the complex role of Lenny, finding the childlike honesty behind the character's outward abrasiveness; he's like an overgrown toddler unintentionally destroying his surroundings merely by existing within them. John Kevin Thomas' skillful portrayal of Crooks -- the sole black man at the plantation where Lenny and George find work -- is honest and compassionate, as is Leigh Guyer as Slim, the sweet, understated farmhand who befriends the vagabond duo. The simple, effective set includes a magnificent sky that with the help of Bart Grady's intricate light design changes from daylight to dusk to a star-speckled midnight, framing the staged action beautifully.

 
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