Of Mice and Men
By John Steinbeck
Directed by Mark Brotherton
Starring Jeffery Allen Sneed and Scott Haupt
Chances are good your read this story in High School; it’s a classic of American Literature. Author Steinbeck intended “Of Mice and Men” as a stage play which makes tonight’s production closer to the authors intent then English class. George (Sneed) and Lenny (Haupt) travel as a team; Lenny’s company more than makes up for his mental issues. Lenny can’t remember much but loves small soft things like puppies and silk and dead mice. But he tends to kill what he loves; a strong body and a weak mind curses him to a life as a drifter. George hustles to keep Lenny out of trouble, but now they’re on a tough ranch with a strange curse. The owner’s jealous son Curly (Steve Angulo) keeps his un-named wife (Colleen Broome) on the ranch where she is bored and isolated. The ranch hands know better than to provoke Curly’s jealousy and they actively repel her for their own safety. Meanwhile, George and Lenny dream of buying a place of their own, and elderly ranch hand Candy (Carson L. Brett) has a bit of cash. Together the three might make it work, if only Lennie could keep from killing what he loves.
Steinbeck presents a powerful look at loneness and what we do to fight it. Sneed is small and wiry and look he could shark pool as well as shuck corn. Haupt’s size and good intentions provides a risk to all around him, and his performance presents a solid demonstration of mental illness wrapped inside of good intentions. On the evil side, Angelo hisses like a big fire cracker with a short fuse, and I was glad they put me in the safety of the 4th row. Ms. Broome is a desperate woman with few chances; she only glimpses why the workers avoid her. The one person on this farm I’d hang with is Crooks (Gerald Kitt); he’s the despised black field hand excluded form society and forced to read rather than play cards. He has a better grasped this poisoned dynamic and sounds like Steinbeck’s alter ego. The set this simple but effective, and this is one of the great pieces of 20th century literature brought to life in the hot, stale air of the UCF Black Box theater. All that’s are missing is the hay fever.