Of Mice and Men at The West Yorkshire Playhouse
Of Mice and Men – a review by Victoria Betton (on behalf of Child 1) …
So the conversation went something like this…
Several weeks before the play:
Me: Do you fancy going to see Of Mice and Men at the Playhouse?
Child 1: No.
Me: But it’s your GCSE text.
Child 1: Exactly.
The evening of the play:
Me: Remember we’ve got tickets from Culture Vulture so we’ve got to write a blog post about it.
Child 1: You can do it.
Taking our seats at the Playhouse:
Child 1: Have you turned your phone to silent? Don’t embarrass me. Can I have ice cream in the interval? Do we have to stay for all of it? (and so on)
Me: Yes. And No. And Yes.
Child 1: Can we go home now?
End of performance/just before Q&A with cast:
Child 1: Do we have to stay for this bit?
Child 1: Don’t ask any questions then. And don’t embarrass me.
[Mother spies Child 1 out of corner of her eye] Child 1 appears to be listening intently. Child 1 is smiling and laughing at quips made by the cast. Child 1 appears to be interested.
On the way home:
Child 1: That’s completely confused me. They said loads of different stuff to what sir tells us.
Me: We’ve got to write a blog post about this remember.
Child 1: You can do it.
I get to write my version of events seeing as how Child 1 has reneged on a vague and quickly forgotten promise to the write this blog post with me. She started off indifferent. She was indifferent up until the interval. But by the end it was clear she had been thinking critically about the director’s interpretation of Steinbeck’s screen play and had a different appreciation and more nuanced perspective on the key themes explored. That’s a win in my book.
And for me? I studied the play for my O-Level (yes that long ago) and I have very little recollection of liking or disliking it. I no doubt harboured the same indifference. Revisiting the book, and then seeing the play performed at the Playhouse, I was blown away by the beauty of the prose and the emotion of the performance. The core themes of loneliness and alienation had a richness and depth on the stage and brought a waver to my lips. My only quibble was the embodiment of Lennie’s rabbit vision in the closing scene – detracting in my view from the intensity of his performance with inevitable giggling fits from the assembled GSCE crowd. The Q&A with the cast was fascinating – learning about their embodiment of the characters, the research they had done and the themes they connected with brought a depth to the experience that I wasn’t expecting.
Next time I drag an unwilling Child 1, Child 2 or Child 3 to the theatre, I’ll make sure we book tickets with the cast Q&A.Tags: leeds, Of Mice and Men, wyplayhouse