Pin It
Favorite

An American Tragedy 

In Lake City’s Of Mice and Men, actors sparkle but dreams die.

click to enlarge We wanna see the rabbits, George. Show us the rabbits, too.
  • We wanna see the rabbits, George. Show us the rabbits, too.

Sitting cross-legged on the ground like a little boy, he rocks back and forth, self-comforting. With his lips trembling, he tugs on the legs of his filthy denim overalls. Fluttering fingers wipe nervous sweat off his forehead. When he’s worried — and he’s usually worried, because he doesn’t understand half of what people say — he jerks his head spasmodically and averts his eyes.

With his masterful characterization of a mentally impaired man, David Gigler’s performance as Lennie Small in Lake City’s Of Mice and Men sets the tone for a production of a script that exerts a primal pull on viewers’ emotions.

Sure, it’s been filmed three times, and you read it in high school. But Steinbeck’s morality tale of migrant workers during the Depression shouldn’t just be checked off as a been-there, done-that classic.

Steinbeck’s characters act generously, form unlikely friendships, envision a better future. Sometimes they’re cruel, of course, and nobody ever has any money. But when the kind-hearted ones have their little victories, we smile the way Lennie does when his traveling companion George tells him bedtime stories.

George Green has played his namesake before, and as with Gigler’s Lennie, it shows in his attention to detail. Portraying the father-figure for this big lunk of a man-child, Green catches both the tenderness and the resentment: He’s glad to care for Lennie but wishes he could stake out on his own. When he can’t supply any ketchup for Lennie’s canned beans, Green’s smiles are clouded with guilt. Later on, when it looks, momentarily, as if George might actually be able to purchase the little farm of their dreams, Green paces around and grimace-grins: He’s happy-anxious in the way people are when their desires crowd in too close.

In the opening scenes, director Dan Heggem lets the tension linger (in low-key lighting of his own design) while Green and Gigler complete their characters with well-observed gestures. But the deliberate pace doesn’t serve the second act’s flurry of incidents. And while Chris LeBlanc provides sage counsel as the foreman, several supporting actors lack conviction. At least the social-outcast theme is carried forward by Norm McBride, who bestows dignity on an old ranch hand, and David Casteal, who lends his resonant voice to a crippled, embittered laborer.

When it comes to tramps like George and Lennie, the world doesn’t care enough even to treat them unfairly — it just happens. After seeking a better future for themselves, they fail. But watching performances as good as Gigler’s and Green’s instills a little hope, at least, that somewhere, somebody like us deserves a little happiness.

Of Mice and Men • Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Jan. 30 • $17; $15, students and military; $13, seniors; $9, children • Lake City Playhouse • 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene • lakecityplayhouse.org • (208) 667-1323

  • Pin It

Speaking of Theater, lake City Playhouse

  • The Bart of Storytelling
  • The Bart of Storytelling

    An eclectic dark comedy at Gonzaga draws on The Simpsons to reflect on the notion of stories
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Finding Solid Footing
  • Finding Solid Footing

    Local radio personality Molly Allen has written a new play about ending and mending relationships
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Spellbound
  • Spellbound

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has laughter, tears and audience participation
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • NEVER 
GONNA 
GIVE 
YOU UP
  • NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP

    Nostalgia for the '80s remains in hyperdrive. Why does the era's pop culture still resonate?
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Remnants 
of Rome
  • Remnants of Rome

    Gonzaga's hit Ancient Roman exhibition is a look into the past and the capability of the university's museum
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • ART | FIRST FRIDAY
  • ART | FIRST FRIDAY

    It's the final Spokane art stroll of the year
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
The Christmas Show feat. Ellen Travolta

The Christmas Show feat. Ellen Travolta @ The Coeur d'Alene Resort

Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 18

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

Readers also liked…

  • Blind Faith
  • Blind Faith

    In a vacant lot by the railroad tracks, an unlikely friendship is found
    • Jan 7, 2016
  • Creative License
  • Creative License

    Get Lit!: Artists interpret two of the fest's featured authors in Spokane storefronts
    • Apr 15, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation