Of Mice and Men
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

Marin Classic Theatre’s production Of Mice and Men, directed by Artie Gilbert, is a loving tribute to John Steinbeck’s classic story of the friendship of two men during the Great Depression. Friends from childhood, George (Karl Erickson) and Lennie (Bob Leach) drift from one job to another. All they have is their friendship and a distinctly American dream to one day “live off the fatta the lan’.”

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world,” George tells Lennie while sitting around the campfire. It’s a story Lennie has heard many times before but never grows tired of. “They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.”

Lennie knows it’s not going to be that way with them because they have each other. But that’s a more precarious balance, on the ledge of isolation, than either of them is willing to admit. Lennie isn’t too bright. He’s a big, strong man with the mind of a child. He likes to pet soft things like mice, rabbits and puppies, but he doesn’t know his own strength and ends up killing the furry creatures. Though Lennie is a strong, hard worker, he invariably does something that causes them to lose their job. Though George fantasizes about how much better off he’d be without Lennie, he also knows that without Lennie he has nothing and would soon fall into the downward spiral of alcohol, gambling and loose women that’s the fate of most men on the run.

What are they running from? Perhaps it’s themselves, their own inability to overcome the social and psychological circumstances to become self-responsible men. And so they dream of getting a place of their own, “a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and…” Then Lennie adds, “An’ have rabbits. Go on George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it.”

It’s a distinctly American dream that even in today’s America is hard to reach. But the dream sustains them. Even though the odds are that Lennie and George will do something to kill any chance of the dream becoming real, they go on trying because their friendship takes them outside themselves. Their love for each other gives them the strength to endure.

The entire cast of this Marin Classic Theatre production must share a similar love of Steinbeck and this play because they really touch the audience with the warmth, laughter and tragedy Of Mice and Men. For tickets or more information call San Anselmo’s Playhouse at (415) 892-8551 or visit www.MCTheatre.com.

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