John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men is to be brought to life in a major new production at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from October 10 – November 1 (press night Tuesday, October 14).
Eight decades after it was first published, the enduring American literary classic has never been more relevant, with it’s themes of friendship between migrant workers during the Great Depression.
But there was recent controversy when former Education Secretary Michael Gove removed the text from the GCSE English literature syllabus.
Adapted from Steinbeck’s novella, the play is a heartbreaking testament to the bonds of friendship and an examination of even the most marginalised to pursue the American Dream.
Of Mice And Men tells the story of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers, who go in search of new beginnings, in the hope of attaining their shared dream: of putting together enough money to buy a small piece of land and build a farm of their own.
The pair arrive at a Californian ranch looking for work after a long and exhausting journey. New opportunities offer Lennie and George the chance to achieve their dream, but it becomes clear that they are no strangers to trouble and, when events spiral out of control, their friendship is tested to the limit in an earth-shattering climax.
“Of Mice and Men is one of the truly great American stories,” says director Roxana Silbert. “It’s an achingly powerful and beautiful play and its brutal and acute investigation on the impact of poverty: how it leads to isolation, violence and humanity is as resonant now as it was 80 years ago when it was premiered.”
Leading the cast as Lennie is Benjamin Dilloway, whose recent theatre credits include The Silver Tassie (National Theatre), If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep (Royal Court Theatre) and King Lear (Almeida). He will be joined by Michael Legge as George. Michael has previously appeared in My Cousin Rachel (The Gate Theatre, Dublin),Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme (Hampstead Theatre) and Southwark Fair and His Dark Materials (National Theatre).
Norman Bowman will take on the role of Slim, having also taken to the stage in Les Misérables (West End & UK Tour),Pirates of Penzance (UK Tour) and Guys And Dolls (West End). Playing alongside him as Carlson / The Boss is Jan Knightley, whose recent credits include Twelfth Night, The Tempest and The Comedy Of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company).
The role of Curley will be played by Ciaran O’Brien, who has also performed onstage in Translations (Rose Theatre),Drum Belly (Abbey Theatre) and Travesties and Durang Durang (Rough Arts), as well as Misfits (Clerkenwell Films) and Ripper Street (BBC) on television.
Making her professional debut at The REP as Curley’s Wife is Birmingham actor Lorna Nickson-Brown – a graduate of the Young REP youth theatre. Nicholas Goode, playing Whit has previously performed in To Kill A Mockingbird(Manchester Royal Exchange), Charlie Peace (Nottingham Playhouse) and Sleeping Beauty (The REP).
The role of Candy will be played by James Hayes, who previously performed at The REP in The Crucible, as well as in productions of Antony and Cleopatra (The Globe), The Captain Of Kopenick (National Theatre) and Trevor Nunn’s All That Fall (The Arts Theatre/Jermyn Street Theatre/59e59 Street Theatre, New York).
The cast is completed with Dave Fishley as Crooks, whose theatre credits include Hamlet, As You Like It and All’s Well That Ends Well (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The Odyssey (Lyric Hammersmith).
Of Mice And Men will be designed by Liz Ashcroft, with lighting design by Simon Bond, music and sound design by Nick Powell and movement by Aline David.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP
Friday 10 October – Saturday 1 November
Performance times: 7.30pm Mon to Sat, apart from Tue 14 Oct at 7pm. Matinees at 2pm on Thu 16, Sat 18, Tue 21, Thu 23, Thu 30 and Sat 1 Nov