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Review: Of Mice and Men at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

It's the book everyone loved to hate at school across the generations... but if you don't know the story of Of Mice and Men by now, it's not too late to learn.

The classic story by John Steinbeck has been re-imagined for the stage in a new adaptation, starting its UK tour in the heart of Canterbury.

The Marlowe Theatre also happen to be co-producers for this production, leading it around the country on its 10-week run.

Richard Keightley as George and Matthew Wynn as Lennie. Credit: Scott Rylander
Richard Keightley as George and Matthew Wynn as Lennie. Credit: Scott Rylander

The story follows two farm workers; a simple man named Lennie, and his best friend George, who makes it his mission to keep Lennie - a gentle giant with careless hands - out of trouble.

The pair make an effort to conceal their tainted pasts to move on with their futures, but they struggle to keep it there where it belongs, as events begin to repeat themselves...

Stepping into the Marlowe felt like stepping onto a 1950s Hollywood film set, as the stage stood as high as the ceiling with wood paneling to create the effect of being in a barn. Clever lighting and smoke also managed to give the impression of a real fire at the very front of the stage, leaving the audience baffled and amazed, along with a life-like puppet of an old dog.

As casts go, the play's was relatively small in number, but it made up for it in talent. Matthew Wynn's Lennie was vulnerable, lovable and equally frustrating - as you find yourself longing for him to control his emotions and physical strength.

Rosemary Boyle as Curley's Wife. Credit Scott Rylander.
Rosemary Boyle as Curley's Wife. Credit Scott Rylander.

Richard Keightley was brilliant as George, creating a stark contrast to Lennie - as a strong-willed and level headed grafter.

But the real star of the show was Rosemary Boyle as Curley's Wife. Boyle perfectly mastered the persona of a misunderstood woman with innocent intentions, while managing to stay sexy throughout, seducing every man that laid eyes on her in the room.

Richard Keightley as George and Matthew Wynn as Lennie. Credit: Scott Rylander
Richard Keightley as George and Matthew Wynn as Lennie. Credit: Scott Rylander

It's a play rich with metaphors and symbolism, exploring a time not so long ago when ignorance to other's suffering was bliss and the American Dream was promoted as a path to Utopia... which probably makes it the reason why it's still so relevant today in 2018.

Of Mice and Men has finished its opening run at the Marlowe Theatre. The show is at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, from Monday, March 26 to Saturday, March 31. For tickets visit assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk or call 01892 530613.

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