Review: Hilberry’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is tragic poetry

Lawrence B. Johnson / Special to The Detroit News

“Steinbeck’s tragedy is played out in its full measure of virile poetics and spiritual bleakness by the young company at Hilberry Theatre, the graduate theater program at Wayne State University. Under the direction of Anthony B. Schmitt, the Hilberry ensemble turns in a performance worthy of the professional stage. It is not to be missed.”

Erman Jones, left, plays Lennie and Peter Prouty is George. Photo credit: Nikki Allen

“In a sense, George is Lennie’s tragic straight man. Lennie keeps trying to get it right, to do right, but just can’t. George rails at him but always gives him one more chance. That is the magnetism in Erman Jones’ obsessive, obedient but error-prone Lennie and Peter Prouty’s gruff, but compassionate and forgiving George.”

“Prouty’s clipped speech, terse and coarse, incisively evokes the flinty façade of a man who knows the coldness of the world and understands that dreams are achieved by dint of will. And still it is to Jones’ eager, anxious, faithful Lennie that we keep turning our hearts. This Lennie is a complicated simpleton, expressed with as much nuance as energy. Like the mice and puppies Lennie loves to hold and pet, we’re in Jones’ pocket to the end.”

“The supporting cast also boasts some fine performances, first among them Alan Ball’s as the weathered old-timer Candy, who latches onto the newcomers’ dream of hearth and freedom. (Candy’s dog is so well trained that you half expect it to speak lines.) As the isolated black farm hand Crooks, Edmund Alyn Jones is exquisite, turning an account of this capable man’s segregation into lyric poetry. Jordan Whalen, as the quiet-spoken and sympathetic mule-skinner Slim, speaks with a measured self-confidence that goes well with his tall, lean form. Vanessa Sawson, as the alluring young wife of the boss’s son, walks a provocative line between sultry and bereft.”

“And hat’s off to Peter Schmidt for an adaptable set design that flows from abstract to naturalistic and back at the toss of a few coverlets. The set gives this production a clear locus, and it is a hard, sad place.”

Lawrence B. Johnson is a cultural writer and critic.

The original article in its entirety may be found here.

Of Mice and Men is more than half way through its public run, though there are still plenty of Morning Matinees to come through the beginning of March. The remainder of the performances are listed below:

This Saturday, December 11, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

January 6, 8 p.m.

January 13, 8 p.m.

February 4, 8 p.m.

February 5, 8 p.m.

February 8, 10 a.m.

Febraury 15, 10 a.m.

March 1, 10 a.m.

For tickets, call the box office at 313-577-2972, or purchase your tickets on-line at

3 thoughts on “Review: Hilberry’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ is tragic poetry

  1. Pingback: A Battle of wills – Richard III closes Friday night « The Hilberry Theatre

  2. Pingback: Don’t miss ‘urban fairytale’ FLOW at the Bonstelle Theatre this weekend « The Hilberry Theatre

  3. Pingback: Hilberry Actor to Premiere Autobiographical One-Man Show « The Hilberry Theatre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s