Of Mice and Men | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Destiny Theater, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church.

Since its theatrical premiere in 1937, John Steinbeck's moving tale of two homeless men whose dreams of security are shattered by unforeseen disaster has become a part of the American idiom--millions of people have responded to big, slow-witted Lennie's plea to his friend George to "tell me about the rabbits" and the sanctuary they symbolize.

Destiny Theater has chosen an ambitious project for its debut production, and unfortunately the company doesn't yet have the resources to pull it off. But even discounting the shortcomings of the church hall in which they perform--poor acoustics, a bare-bones set--the acting never rises above the level of passable classroom exercise, with players delivering their lines as if they'd never heard of subtext or characterization. Particularly debilitating is the way Ed Klaus highlights Lennie's childlike innocence, since he's not physically big enough to suggest the strength that's also part of Lennie's character. And director John Kerney's casting of a woman as the ranch boss was probably expedient but engenders a serious problem, disrupting the play's men-without-women dynamic.

The Destiny company are not without talent, but they'd do well to reevaluate their goals in light of time and labor restrictions. It would be a shame to overextend themselves again on an undertaking as cumbersome as this one.

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