Having never wrote about a play BEFORE it occurred, I have to say, I am VERY excited to be seeing the London Theatre’s presentation of Of Mice and Men tomorrow – some great actors, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd. Pretty much one of my favorite stories, this will be great to see at the Lunario, and I am anticipating this blog post POST viewing 🙂
As usual, the night was perfect for this production. As custom, I biked from Roma Norte to the Auditorio, and it never ceases to amaze me the sky. Lit up and still admiring a beautiful evening, moon, and great atmosphere, the trip to the Auditorio helped build my anticipation for the night. Wanting to leave earlier than I did but not, I slid past police at a gate that were remnants of the days protest. With friends and students from ASF attending this evening, this was home for a few hours for another production.
There are moments when dialogue occurs from an acorn and it hangs there in the silence, and just seeps into your being. This happened on many occasions throughout what I already knew to be a great story written by Steinbeck, now appearing at The LongAcre Theatre. Seeing the Gary Sinise and John Malkovich version previously, and having read and taught the book previously, I had no drawbacks to this story unfold before me, for the reasons that impacted me this very night.
Those moments that stuck with you after dropped from the various characters, often sticking with you like a hot bowl of oatmeal in the morning – the lines that are so powerfully written take on new meaning when the pauses when they are drawn out slowly, an d are left to hang on your heart, mind, and soul. This occurred now only with the character of Candy played by Jim Norton, lamenting the loss of his dog and the feeling of being forced into coming to tasks with the coming of age and inevitable isolation, to the points where Lennie has remarkable comebacks in memory that cause George to pause in his mental regret of being with Lennie – and “…all the things he could do without Lennie.”
The genius of Steinbeck and the power of words that have the ability to hang in the air and become stronger as time passes becomes reinforced with the mid session comments from the producer Anna D. Shapiro – “Lennie is the heart of George outside of his body.” Think about that, just the way that is said, is powerful. Yet, Steinbeck does the same thing with the way companionship, trust, and the various needs of the of the human condition and how essential they are. What really surprised me was the character strength of Lennie played by Chris O’Dowd, he really grabbed me and he had many such lines that were emotional in a new way thanks to the subtle pauses, lingerings, and emphasis that were found on some of the lines.
I do like the reviews that are available from various critics, but as I sat there, I realized, that so many human traits come out from Steinbeck’s writing, creating, and organization of elements that maybe might be Candy’s dog in the beginning, but resemble the same characteristics Lennie contains towards the end when the same painful situation arises to solve a problem that just goes in circles. The suspense of waiting for the final shot with Candy’s dog, revisits the viewer only now in human form with Lennie. The anticipation mirrors the same anticipation and anxious waiting that can occur when someone longs for genuine companionship, as in the case of Lennie’s wife.
I was disappointed that the ending, I just wanted more to be a final wrap up of the power that was carried through the whole piece I felt emotionally, and that Steinbeck, alongside Anna Shapiro manages to have us revisit. Yet, I did not have a right to dictate good or bad I realized, as the strength that came from those very lines that seemed to hang in the air lightly, truly made this play powerful despite bits and pieces of irrelevant scenes that might now have been considered foe this interpretation. I realized, that no matter how many times individuals revisit certain situations related to the human condition, they can be reinterpreted, sometimes in different ways, sometimes differently depending on someone’s stage in life, or a change in the environment. Of Mice and Men was able to capture all these variations in so many ways, and to see the familiar face of James Franco, the strength of characters that seemed to fit perfectly in Slim and Carlson (played by Jim Parrack and Joel Marsh Garland respectively).
Heading back to Roma Nortre, I couldn’t help how sometimes the need for isolation, silence, being alone pervades my soul on some days so bad, I thirst for it and just sink into it as comfortable as the softest bathrobe. Yet, the memories of moments with people along your side that allow you to have dreams to soothe the pains of the day, allow dreams to come alive, and hope to flourish is as strong as the strongest urge for being alone; their clashing often emphasizes the power of each side, and how, similar to the quiet streets of Reforma and Roma, as I glide into the entrance of what I call home, how real this elements are to the human condition. Steinbeck, Anna Shapiro, the actors, and all of us that are lucky enough to see this revisited, are the artists day after day. it is nostalgic to recall a time long past, and a luxury to be able to revisit it with the emotions that influence us still today.