Mice Try

DTC's Of Mice and Men travels at warp speed. What's the rush?

Despite the hurdy-gurdy pacing, however, there is a lot to admire about this production. The technical details are nearly perfect. Costumes by Miguel Angel Huidor are as faded and dingy as old hides. The lighting design by Marcus Doshi floods the enormous set with hazy streaks of sunlight and shadow.

The all-Equity cast creates a believable community of misfits, men beaten to the heels by poverty and loneliness. As George, Todd Weeks has the murine face Steinbeck describes, and he delivers the clipped prose with a flatness that fits the landscape sprawled behind him. Weeks lets his George always list slightly to one side, arms dangling limp as a scarecrow's as he fills Lennie's head with promises of farms and rabbits and eternal friendship.

Robert Prentiss is a smart choice as Slim, the bunkhouse authority, handsomer and cleaner than the rest of the ragged fraternity. He's the one who understands the deep connection between Lennie and George, and it will be Slim who'll become George's protector later on.

Lost weekend: Todd Weeks, Sean Runnette, Lorca Simons and Stanley Wayne Mathis play characters who spend three violent days at a ranch in Of Mice and Men at DTC.
Tom Jenkins
Lost weekend: Todd Weeks, Sean Runnette, Lorca Simons and Stanley Wayne Mathis play characters who spend three violent days at a ranch in Of Mice and Men at DTC.

Details

Through September 29; 214-522-8499
Dallas Theater Center's Arts District Theater

Jerry Russell is fine as The Boss. And as the "stable buck,'' Crooks, the black man segregated from the others' horseshoe games, Stanley Wayne Mathis is heartbreakingly dignified.

Though it seems on the surface to be George's story, Of Mice and Men really is Lennie's play, and lantern-jawed Sean Runnette makes a memorable Lennie. He's George's Jungian shadow, a frightened man-child soothed by George's constant repetition of the "land-dream'' and the touch in his huge, calloused hands of something soft (dead mouse, rabbit, woman's hair). It's Lennie alone who sees his dream come true by the end of the play. The rest must return to hardscrabble failure.

On page or stage, Of Mice and Men is a profound condemnation of the emptiness of the American material ideal. If the performance at DTC is just short of breathtaking, it's because it never slows down for those scant moments needed to let Steinbeck's powerful words hang a little longer in the air.

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