July 06, 2012

Farmer's Of Mice and Men reviewed

Of Mice & Men--Inspiring Production of a Depression-Era Tale

By John ThrelfallGranted, a track record of pairing classic shows with strong actors and an accomplished director doesn’t always pay off, but in this case it’s definitely four in a row for Richmond. Blue Bridge’s Of Mice & Men is a remarkable and beautifully wrought slice of Americana, telling a story that could easily be transposed into our current Recession-era daily life: swap farmland for street life and bunkhouse for homeless shelter and you’ve got a story for today, right down to the bedbugs and hopeless dreams of a brighter tomorrow.And:Ferry—no stranger to Blue Bridge productions (his Death of a Salesman was a critical and popular hit three years ago)—makes a welcome return here, offering us a conflicted George trapped by inevitable tragedy. He’s one of those actors who just seems to embody his character on every level, and is always compelling to watch. Less dramatically theatrical but equally engaging is Farmer’s Lennie; he fills the truly larger than life character with just the right mix of innocence and simple-mindedness. And while I’m not sure if Farmer himself is actually that big, or if Richmond just cast (and designed) small to overemphasize the actor’s size, he does both emotionally and physically fill the stage.Review: Of Mice and Men

By Adrian ChamberlainGary Farmer played the role of Lennie decades ago under the direction of Brian Richmond, who oversees this production. It’s easy to see why Richmond wanted him back. Farmer exudes a larger-than-life charisma. As Lennie, his joyful, childlike laughs—head thrown back—are irresistible even when he’s saying things that are distasteful.

Farmer’s performance on Thursday night was vaudevillian in the best sense of the word. A big man, he brings a wonderful physicality to the role, both in gesture and facial expression. There was a bit of Red Skelton (the good Red, not the hammy Red) in Farmer’s acting. It was difficult to imagine someone else playing the role—always a sign an actor is doing something right.

Rating: Four Stars (out of five)
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Gary Farmer in Of Mice and Men.

Below:  Gary Farmer and David Ferry. (Tim Matheson)

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