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BrumHour saw Of Mice and Men at the invite of Birmingham Rep.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains; gaslighting, coercion, misogynistic behaviour and language.
Review: Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Rep
⭐⭐⭐⭐A hard-hitting drama
Directed by Iqbal Khan, written by John Steinbeck
George (Tom McCall) and Lennie (Wiliam Young) are going from farm to farm as casual workers, when they arrive at one owned by Curley’s (Riad Richie) father known as The Boss (James Clyde), there’s only one woman on the farm, Curley’s new wife (Maddy Hill) who no-one refers to by her name.
Set in the rural USA in what looks to be the 1930s, this is a story that is on most secondary/high school curriculums in England. I spend the first twenty minutes wondering why, as I’d never seen this story or read it myself. What made this noteworthy? The initial pacing is very soft and slow and the tension doesn’t build for the first 40 minutes or so.
That said, this is a hard-hitting drama, that explores mental health issues, people with lower learning ages and controlling behaviours. There are lighter moments and they make the serious moments even punchier.
There’s music and vocals between the scene changes and the sound of cicadas for scenes away from the farm. The music feels quite natural to the environment as though it could almost be the characters cheering themselves up or at church on a Sunday.
The first half stands at 90 minutes and for some, this can feel pretty lengthy whilst the second half seems to be just around an hour. Toilet breaks before the start and in the interval are a must.
Maddy Hill is excellent as Curly’s Wife, trapped in this life wishing to be elsewhere, and the rest of the ensemble cast are great, Tom McCall and William Young stand out as our leads, full of secrets and blurry boundaries for revealing truth. Riad Richie is suitably angry throughout and it is annoying when his character is vilified with his distrust.
Well worth seeing, Of Mice and Men is at Birmingham Rep until 8th April 2023. Book tickets here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/of-mice-and-men.