Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Thurs 6 Feb.
Of Mice & Men tells the journey of two friends struggling to find their own piece of land, their own little paradise, against the backdrop of the great American depression. Whilst being familiar with the story but having never seen it performed on stage, I was intrigued to see how Tin Shed would present their adaptation of this famous classic known to audiences for generations.
We entered the theatre space and I was instantly drawn to the array of props that had been used to set the scene. Stage manager Antonio Rimola had cleverly chosen lighter items such as crates and stools; this enabled the cast to rearrange the set quickly and effectively in order to change scenes multiple times throughout the play. I also found that the music and sound effects, provided by Peter Farago, were a constant element during, thus really helping to keep within the theme and subconsciously draw the audience closer to feeling part of the story.
Robert Hopkins’ portrayal of Lennie, a hard working but simple man, was absolutely outstanding, for an actor to play such a complex and testing role takes a fair amount of practise and expertise. Hopkins definitely brought the beautiful innocence of Lennie to life, tugging at the heart strings with his sweet, bumbling nature. The chemistry between Lennie and George, a stern but patient man full of hopes and dreams, played by Antonio Rimola, was electric, both actors were consistent and ricocheted off one another with a fantastic rapport.
I particularly enjoyed the magic of Crooks, the unfortunate outcast played by Jade Fearon, in keeping his character whilst quietly re-setting the stage during the interval. This may have gone unnoticed by the majority of the audience, but in doing this act I felt the play itself had just that little bit extra spark of professionalism to it.
A massive credit is due to actor Samuel Griffiths for his incredible performance of Candy, the sweet natured seasoned veteran of the ranch. Samuel Griffiths did not just portray Candy; he completely immersed himself within the character whilst on stage. I found myself in awe of the dedication in his movement in the space and the superb use of his voice was faultless.
Tin Shed Theatre has managed to produce an adaptation that most definitely does justice to the original story. We found ourselves enraptured with the intense tragedy that began to unfold before us. I found myself swallowing past the lump in my throat during the famous final scene, the actors kept our focus gripped to the action during those heart breaking final moments. I look forward to seeing further productions by The Tin Shed Theatre Company as this performance has left a lasting impression.
words SARAH FINCH
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Thu 6-Fri 7 Feb. Tickets: £12/ £10 conc. Info: 029 2030 4400 / www.chapter.org
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Tues 11 Feb. Tickets: £7 – £14. Info: www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk
Riverfront, Newport, Wed 12-Fri 14 Feb. Tickest: £8.50/£6.50 conc. Info: www.newport.gov.uk