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Ian Waller enjoys a faultless production of a John Steinbeck classic

Quite simply, Of Mice and Men at the Theatre Royal Bath is a faultless production of an American literary classic that is so very worthy of the prolonged applause from the audience. From the incredible acting talents of the whole cast, to the creative stagecraft and minimal set, it’s a production full of emotion, tension and appreciation of the original story.

Of Mice and Men tells the story of George and Lennie, two depression era labourers travelling American and looking for work at farms along the way. While George is clever and outgoing, Lennie’s child-like nature sees him yearning for animals to pet and love, with the huge strength that makes him such an impressive worker also getting the couple into trouble.

Tom McCall as George and Maddy Hill as Curleys Wife (Photo: Ciaran Bagnall)

It’s also a story of social injustice, bigotry, loyalty and friendship, alongside a criticism of the worthless nature of life in mid-1930s America, where a man’s value is simply measured by his ability to deliver backbreaking work for little more than a bunk in the evening and a visit to the cathouse at the end of the month.

When the couple start a new job at a ranch, it’s inevitably only a matter of time before the bullying owner’s son Curley and his beautiful new wife create problems for George and Lennie.

Throughout the cast are just superb. Tom McCall as George is bursting with an energy and intelligence that is weighed down by the daily struggles of work and looking after this friend, Lennie. McCall is so impressive in portraying his frustrations at the trouble his lumbering friend lands him in, while also showing the clear love that he has for him. This really is a stand-out performance.

Similarly, Wiliam Young as Lennie is wholly convincing as Lennie, displaying the innocence of his character and his simple dreams, while also uncovering the naiavity that will inevitably be his own downfall.

Special mention must also go to Emile Clarke who, due to illness in the cast, was asked at the very last minute to stand in for the role of Crooks, reading the part on stage. Wow, what a star – he embraced the challenge heroically and rightfully deserved the applause of the audience and the rest of cast at the end of the play.

Throughout, the minimal but so creative set, combined with the soulful songs mirroring the conflicts of the characters, adds to the aura of the piece, showing the stark reality of their lives.

I can’t recommend this production highly enough. Whether you’re read Steinbeck before or are new to his world, take a trip to the Theatre Royal Bath and enjoy the skill of his storytelling.

Of Mice and Men appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 May. To book tickets call the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit