Had high hopes for this. Maybe too high. Anna D. Shapiro is a powerhouse director, but there are a few missteps in this otherwise good production. Two pivotal scenes that should punch and grab the viewer are flaccid. But most importantly, she has failed, in partnership, with James Franco to extract a performance that is organic, focused, and logical. He runs the gamut from doing little to avoid making risky choices (therefore, doing nothing and being boring and illogical), to doing things you typically see a kid doing his first high school play. He looks apprehensive, lost, inexperienced, and is quite frankly THE first time I've seen an actor on Broadway look so amateurish. Infuriating. He's a lesson in what lack of core dramatic training and experience in all mediums can do to tv and film stars who haven't cut their teeth either in serious study and/or stage experience. A video of him should be shown to students on what NOT to do. AND.....he boasts teaching acting at UCLA!!!!! On the opposite end, Chris O'Dowd as Lennie delivers a traditional, yet self adapted and nuanced performance that is touching, endearing, and heartbreaking. Leighton Meester is also wonderful as Curly's Wife. The rest of the cast in supporting roles all deliver; the rest of the production does its job of moving well enough, looks and sounds good...............but the penultimate scenes are ruined through a combination of Franco's lack of skill and Shapiro's loss of formulative solutions on how to accomplish the two most emotional scenes in the story.
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