Theatre full of mice and men


Aubrey Trecek, Arts and Activities Editor

Many in the audience in the New Berlin West PAC on April 16, 17, and 18 were likely already familiar with the tragedy, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. The classic book’s stage adaptation revolves around the relationship between independent George (Scott Ziolecki) and his giant, brain-damaged friend Lenny (Daniel Jasinski) who wander the country in search of a job during the Great Depression.

Ziolecki was impeccable as George. He brought the slight elusiveness necessary for the role. He played George as observant, always on the watch for possible trouble, and when trouble came, bottled-up George had to spill out all of his emotions for everyone to see. He had to destroy what he loved most in the world, and Ziolecki’s performance brought the fullness the climax of the play needed. Jasinski as Lenny was decent. As the “slow” man, he brought the innocence required to make the character likeable, but when he did something wrong, Jasinski did not bring quite enough anguish as Lenny is typically portrayed as having, without actually being aware of the severity of what he has done. It was also odd to hear that Lenny was a big man when Jasinski was one of the shortest ones on stage. Overall, the character was just fumbling and worried enough, up until he met his cruel end.

The event that leads to this end is a result of Lenny’s interaction with the sexually promiscuous Curly’s wife. Bailey Pietsch, who portrayed her, did not have the sexual curiosity that is this character’s prime motivation. Just having the character simply speaking to the men without the necessary level of sexual undertone made the male characters’ animosity toward her unwarranted. It was hard to understand that they were afraid to be caught with her coming on to them, because she was not really doing so. It takes away from Lenny’s worst action, though Jasinski made it work. Pietsch also mumbled at points and was therefore difficult to understand. She also very obviously breathed when her character was supposedly dead. However, Pietsch did portray the loneliness that Curly’s wife feels well, which evoked sympathy from the audience.

The ensemble held four of the most captivating actors in the show. Jonathan Reif as The Boss only had one scene, but did extremely well, especially as a middle school student participating in a high school level play. Clayton Mortl was outstanding as the cruel, abusive Curly. Allie Warner was amazing as Crooks; however, instead of being a black man, the character was changed to be an outcast because she was a woman. This left a major plot hole in the aspect that Steinbeck intended that women be treated inferior to men, and Crooks, though claiming to be left out, was often included in scenes that seemed to portray that she was a guy’s girl. Laments from Curly’s wife about being the only girl around also brought confusion.

Trevor Whittow as the elderly Candy was the most compelling actor in the entire show. He was absolutely heart-wrenching as an elderly man whose old dog was put down, and the character realized that the other workers would be trying to put him down next. His desire to escape that fate was truly brought to the audience in desperation.

This play was different from any other in the New Berlin West Theatre as it was done as theatre in the round. This is when the audience surrounds the actors and there is little set. Though interesting, the characters were often positioned as if the audience was all in front of them as usual. This made it extremely difficult for audience members on the sides and in the back to see anything but the actor’s backs, and the emotion from the characters was often lost as a result.

Overall, this touching play left the audience considering the emotional end when it was over, and it was mostly enjoyable.