5 June 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
"When it rains in the winter, we'll just say to hell with goin' to work"
Knowing that this 2014 production of the John Steinbeck classic 'Of Mice and Men' was part of the National Theatre Live cinema series, which has always given me a great deal of pleasure, was enough to make me want to watch. Also that the book is a classic and was intrigued as to how James Franco and Chris O'Dowd would fare as George and Lennie. Franco has done dramatic roles and very well, not in this vein though, but associate O'Dowd more in comedy.
The production turned out to be very good. A very nice job is done adapting the book to stage, though the book on a side note (and this is in no way a knock) is not as difficult to adapt to stage than other based-on-book stage adaptations in the National Theatre Live series. If Steinbeck were still alive, he would not be disgusted at all watching this production of 'Of Mice and Men' even with a couple of reservations.
Would have liked a softer and more subtle touch to O'Dowd's Lennie, could see and hear a lot of his zany comedy experience in his interpretation and from personal opinion it just felt wrong and over-acted (the stage directions are also quite specific and they sounded ignored here).
A shame because he was exactly right on the physical front and his chemistry with Franco is beautifully done.
Franco's performance however is excellent throughout, a dynamic and powerful performance so good that it warrants more than one star here, and the supporting cast are all strong, especially Jim Norton.
Visually, 'Of Mice and Men' looks great with rustic and atmospheric sets, evocative costuming and suitably dusky lighting beautifully enhanced by the photography. The script is thought-provoking and the staging is never less than compelling, affectionate, sometimes tense and very poignant.
Overall, very good. 8/10