Of Mice and Men, Edinburgh Lyceum, Theatre Review


For anyone unfamiliar with John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, it is a simple yet undoubtedly compelling tale of hardship and alienation. Set in California during the Great Depression, the story centres around two migrant ranch workers, George (William Ash) and Lennie (Steve Jackson), as they go in search of employment and security. George is the brains of the outfit, making all the decisions and ensuring both men have a roof over their heads, whilst Lennie is a big and loveable soul; he is not the brightest of sparks, but is undeniably an excellent worker.

Set and costume designer Colin Richmond does well to capture the semblance of Steinbeck’s fable, creating a stark yet oppressive stage which outlines the worn walls of a barn littered with straw and coloured with a mix of warm yellows and light browns. The result is that the viewer gets caught up in the world of the rural West and immerses themselves in the story that ensues.

While on the whole accents are solid, at moments they appear forced and unconvincing, leading to moments of wavering believability. The actors are generally well cast, with George and Lennie being particularly notable. Their ability to portray the ethos of Steinbeck’s characters, through the successful capturing of both men’s plight and victimisation, is commendable and allows a certain degree of empathy.

Despite only being one of the minor characters, John Macauley’s portrayal of the crippled skinner Crooks is powerfully moving and therefore also worth noting. A character who exists in an openly-racist culture, Macauley manages to beautifully evoke the awkward isolation created as a result of a hostile social division. This combined with an impressive encapsulation of the character’s debilitating back injury makes for an endearing and ultimately compelling performance.

Though the play takes a while to get going, this is arguably due to the slow moving dialogue that builds gradually to a closing crescendo. By the end of the first half, the audience find itself encompassed in the struggles of the lead characters and the sympathies that go with them. However, this sympathy is inconsistent. Certain scenes, such as the execution of Candy’s dog, are excellent in their ability to create tension, but unfortunately, this level of engagement is not maintained throughout. Considerable moments of the play feel drawn out and lack conviction; so while the performance is certainly amiable, it is ultimately capricious.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Feb 21st 2012.

A View From The Bridge, Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh: Review


John Dove returns to the Royal Lyceum for what is his fifth and final production of a series of Arthur Miller’s plays. A View From A Bridge remains a quintessential classic of 20th century drama with its strong themes of community and an ongoing search for identity, making it a powerful start to the Lyceum’s Spring season.

Set in an Italian-American neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York in the 1950’s, the story follows longshoreman Eddie Carbone (Stanley Townsend) who lives with his wife Beatrice (Kathryn Howden) and niece Catherine (Kirsty Mackay). As an act of charity, the family give refuge to two of Beatrice’s cousins: Marco (Richard Conlon) and Rodolpho (Gunner Cauthery) who have come to America as illegal immigrants in search of work, aiming to send money back to their starving families in Italy. However, as time progresses, the relationship between Catherine and Rudolpho deepens, causing Eddie to become uncomfortable.

As tension increases, problems of trust and betrayal arise in a tale reminiscent of Greek tragedy. Townsend does well to encapsulate the rising angst of protagonist Eddie, who is visibly seen to fall apart, his jealousy growing as a result of a convoluted love he is unable to comprehend. Mackay is a physical embodiment of a woman coming of age, imbuing beauty swathed in a veil of naivety. In a truly endearing fashion, Howden effortlessly captures the honesty of a caring mother figure who remains strong despite her husband slipping away.

Ultimately, Dove illustrates the closeness of a community brought together by the ties of familial benefaction against overarching governmental laws, a theme which is made all the more compelling due to the strong sense of betrayal between Conlon and Townsend. The closing scene is a testament to this. Brought together by the narration of Liam Brennan, who plays Alfieri (a lawyer who witnesses the deterioration of Eddie first hand), his attempts to help are refused by a man who has become deluded by the love he can never have, resulting in scenes that are both moving and somewhat disturbing.

Though Dove’s production is certainly not flawless, it successfully captures the essence of Miller’s drama through his strong sense of characterisation and portrayal of believable relationships. The verisimilitude with which the cast manages to make even an evening meal appear authentic makes this an impressive play to start the year.

Taken from The Journal, published Wed Jan 26 2011.