PALT players honor Steinbeck with “Of Mice and Men”

Published 7:22 pm Friday, April 25, 2008

When a can of beans for supper is high off the hog, and beans with ketchup is just a wish, the dream of living “off the fat of the land” is sustenance.

Even while we complain of high gas prices, most of us can’t imagine an empty belly or if there will be work tomorrow. Port Arthur Little Theater is presenting a riveting production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” Set in the Depression era, younger viewers will get a flavor of hard times.

Audience members chatted about when they read this work in high school. It tells the painful story of drifters George and his mentally challenged friend Lennie, a gentle giant who can’t harness his own power. He pets a mouse too much and kills it, and can’t quite understand how it happened. If he wants to “pet” a girl’s pretty dress or soft hair, it spells trouble.

Damon Gengo plays George, who we’d now call a passive-agressive care giver. He truly cares for Lenny, and calms him with images of the house they will someday buy so Lenny can tend rabbits. But George can’t help but rant about how easy his life would be if he didn’t have to care for Lenny and could spend his pay in cat houses.

You love George for what he tries to do. You love Lenny for being so pure at heart.

Craig Bertrand is spot-on as Lenny, acting as much with his body language and timid voice as with his lines. He demonstrates Lenny’s frightened nature by constantly toying with a button on his jacket or the bib of his overalls.

You may remember from high school what sort of trouble awaits Lenny and how George resolves it. If this story is new or old to you, it is enjoyable at Port Arthur Little Theatre. Roxane Gray directs a very believable cast dressed in work clothes so authentic looking you might imagine you can smell them from the stage. The multi dimensional set is a treat as well.

Catch the show at the theatre, 4701 Jimmy Johnson Boulevard, Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27, May 2-4 and 9-11. Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for students and senior citizens. Call 727-PALT to make reservations.

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