'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast their eyes over Anna D. Shapiro's all-star adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic 1937 play. Lead actors James Franco, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester may feel more comfortable in front of a lens on a big budget Hollywood set but their roles in this Depression-era drama serve to show their dramatic prowess extends beyond the glitzy confines of tinseltown.

Of Mice And Men Cast
The 'Of Mice And Men' Cast Premiered Their Production On Broadway Last Night.

The NY Times focusses on the lead trio's performances and hasn't a bad word to say about any of the Broadway newbies' theatre turns: "O'Dowd ("Bridesmaids") is such a likable and endearing actor that he automatically brings goodwill to a role," says Joe Dziemianowicz, adding "Franco's confident, straightforward, no-frills performance works just right. He can do a lot with a look" and "Meester brings out the yearning and sadness of the unnamed wife."

Check out more photos from the 'Of Mice And Men' opening night in our gallery.

The Independent can't seem to say enough nice things about Franco's performance, leaving O'Dowd slightly out in the cold: "While [O'Dowd] possesses the right physicality for the role, he is too loud and zany for a character that Steinbeck's stage directions call for speaking "softly" and "timidly"", adding nonetheless that the Irish actor's comedy fans will enjoy his "wounded bear" performance.

Of Mice And Men Leighton Meester Chris O'Dowd James Franco
James Franco, Leighton Meester & Chris O'Dowd Excel In Their New Broadway Roles.

The Telegraph, however, takes the opposing view, stating that the Bridesmaids star is "one of the best things about [the show]" and "Loose-limbed and lumbering, O'Dowd is a revelation as Lennie - a giant of a man left childlike and painfully innocent by a head injury suffered in his youth. [...] O'Dowd neither patronises nor makes light of the character. His American accent is pretty good, too."

Meanwhile, Franco "crackles with intensity in some scenes but who initially gives a strained, over-exerted performance." Importantly, Tom Wicker notes, the production hasn't sold out by recruiting big name stars: "To its credit, in spite of its star wattage, this production doesn't aim for fireworks: it's an affectingly quieter, lower key affair."

See A Sneak Preview Of 'Of Mice And Men' At Longacre Theatre:

The Washington Post agrees with the Franco verdict, writing "he registers changes in his features barely perceptibly, as if he is waiting during the 15th take for the camera to pick up the facial nuances. While he's vocally okay (from the front of the orchestra, anyway), he's far too impassive. There are more noteworthy shifts in the scenery than there are in this George's moods."

Luckily, the 127 Hours star is saved by Variety: "The multitalented and ever-so-busy Franco gives a performance that's equally honest and beautifully crafted." Marilyn Stasio is exalts the entire cast, saying "There's no way to overpraise the nine men and one woman (Leighton Meester, holding her own nicely, thank you, as the femme fatale) in this ensemble who bring Steinbeck's characters to life."

Of Mice And Men Leighton Meester Chris O'Dowd James Franco
Critics Adored O'Dowd & Franco's Takes On Their Characters & How They Interacted.

It's not just the actor who are hogging the limelight though: "The mood of that period is gorgeously but disturbingly rendered by the brilliant creative team assembled by Shapiro," the critic adds, detailing the wonderful set and costume design, as well as the lighting and sound. Truly, Of Mice And Men is not to be missed.

Of Mice And Men is on now through to the 27th July.

More: James Franco laughs off Instagram controversy in hilarious SNL skit.

More: Chris O'Dowd nominated for TV BAFTA for 'The IT Crowd' - find out more.


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Tags: James Franco - Chris O'Dowd - Leighton Meester

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