Down On The Farm

Opera among the silos of outstate Minnesota, and a new staging of Steinbeck's grim classic.

Where many young actors would founder on the script's double negatives, this cast finds the emotional content in Steinbeck's least explicit dialogue: The endless series of I seen that's and I see what you mean's signify a profound, world-weary understanding of each character's sorry lot. As the hulking simpleton, Lennie, a man-child whose most profound desire is to raise soft rabbits, Brian Baumgartner suggests a complete universe that exists in a ceaseless present tense. Jay Dysart (who also designed the versatile and effective sets) achieves what might be the highest standard of naturalistic stage acting in portraying George; one almost forgets he's playing a part.

As sensitively and skillfully directed by Annelise Christ, the Hidden Theatre here deliver in full a promise only implied in their previous productions. Put with less qualification: this is as true and affecting a performance as has been seen in the Cities this year.

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