RICHLAND -- The Richland Players Theatre came alive last week with an impressive performance of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
This novel is a true American classic and probably one of the most well-read, studied and discussed novels of its kind.
While it tells the tale of a man and his dream, it also shows the love and the frustration of one man toward another.
Begrudgingly, George Milton shares his dream with Lennie Small, a simple man in the true sense of the word. This play serves as a paragraph in a tale of both men as they struggle in the depression era, their lives intricately intertwined and their interaction with a handful of ranch hands.
Michael Thomas gives a thoroughly compelling performance, showing George at his most vulnerable. Thomas carries the play with his voice and enormous stage presence.
Lennie is the most believable and endearing character in the play. Portrayed in a dramatic and convincing fashion by Mark Humann, the character of Lennie comes to life in a way not often seen in small-town theater.
Richard Reuther plays Candy, an old-timer who has been around the block a few times with not the best results.
Gary Cook, Michael Wutke and Hailey Hoffman helped define the dysfunctional family dynamic with their roles. And the supporting cast of Gene Carbaugh, Damon Johnson, Kevin Lanham and E.J. Brewer were superb. They helped keep the play moving without stopping or pausing and maintained their presence.
Even the one actor in this show who had no lines was an integral part of the show -- as in Sherlock the dog who played Candy's sidekick and lifelong pal.
When one of the ranch hands convinces Candy to let him shoot the dog, you could literally hear a pin drop in the theater.
If you are aware of the novel, then the end result is no surprise. However, this production held a surprise no one in last weekend's audience expected. The ending was brillantly executed and stunned the audience. No one applauded. No one moved.
Overall, this presentation Of Mice and Men is a must-see show.
Remaining performances are Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Tickets are $12 at the door.
* Layne Newman has lived throughout the world as a military wife. She and her husband have settled in Kennewick, where she enjoys pursuing her two passions, theater and history.