LET’S REVIEW: ‘Of Mice and Men’ brings chilling dramatic portrayals at North Coast Rep

A cornucopia of North Coast Repertory Theatre talents has created a versatile, moving experience in their latest production, Steinbeck’s mighty, “Of Mice and Men.” Richard Baird, founding Artistic Director of New Fortune Theatre Company, who fills many positions behind and on area stages, superbly directs.

American author John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (1902-1968) wrote “Of Mice and Men” in 1937. The story reflects his time on ranches in small California communities where he had plenty of time to discover how the ranchers and farmers lived.

The dark tale focuses on two characters — the magnificently portrayed George (Jacob Sidney) and Lennie (Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper). However the entire cast is totally immersed in their roles and present their characters to the audience as if Steinbeck himself is telling the story. Set during the Great Depression, the tough migrant ranchers work hard for their money.

George doesn’t work as much because he’s a full-time caretaker of the mentally disturbed Lennie, who likes soft things like rabbits and the fabrics on girls’ dresses. It’s all George can do to not have Lennie keep making the mistakes he made in the past. Ranchers Slim (J. Stephen Brantley), Whit (Justin Lang), and Carlson (Max Macke) portray the workers. Candy (John Greenleaf) is great as the old, timeworn rancher.

George comes up with an idea for a better life, but real life intervenes. He’s accused by the Boss’ (Ted Barton) son Curley (Wallace Bruce), of touching his wife (Sierra Jolene). Things escalate when Lennie visits Crooks (Laurence Brown) and a tragic incident jeopardizes the jobs of the ranchers.

The design team has done a great job with staging that breathes life into every moment of the play.

IF YOU GO: “Of Mice and Men” runs through Nov. 19 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets: $45-$56. (858) 481-1055, northcoastrep.org

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