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Arts and Entertainment

Of Mice and Character Actors in Search of an Audience

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John Steinbeck's 1937 short novel Of Mice and Men works surprisingly well onstage, and even surprisingly better in small venue, like NoHo's Secret Rose Theatre. LAist remembers the dusty and rabbit-infested book from our high school reading list, but even knowing the heartbreaking ending doesn't spoil the experience of watching a handful of character actors strut their stuff in their finest ranch-hand's denim.

The Fire Rose production seems pleased to affiliate the performance with the Michael Chekhov technique. Technique, schmechnique, we say; good character parts are hard to find, and good character actors even harder. This is meaty material, mice and all. Alex Hyde-White's George shows us a man hovering on the brink of destruction, and Mike Rademaekers seems nothing short of born to play the role of the hapless and ill-fated Lennie. His edgy giggle and ever-flexing grip let viewers define suspension of disbelief. A group of capable players lend their hands in support. Granted, where there are Mice, there's cheese, and some moments of this two and a half hour show earn their unintended guffaws. And while we like to see theatre with attitude, we don't like our box office attendant-slash-hostess to have the attitude; a cheeky "I guess I'm supposed to welcome you to our show, so, like, um, welcome," announcement prior to the metaphoric curtain-up left a bad taste in our mouth and smacked of a saucy middle school class president making a snide speech at assembly. Give her the proverbial hook, get the show started, and give us another reason to remember that LA has good theatre.

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, through February 20th. The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Boulevard in the NoHo Theatre & Arts District (aka North Hollywood). Tickets are $18.00 ($15.00 for students). (818) 766-3691.

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