No matter how you dress it up, John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" is, at its core, a depressing tale that plods along until that horrific moment when (spoiler alert!) a mentally challenged man is shot in the head by his friend and caretaker.
But if that's what you're looking for this holiday season, Moonbox Productions' impeccable rendition of the Depression-era classic will reel you in and take you on the long, dark, disturbing journey.
Director Allison Choat's ensemble tinges every moment of despair with the slightest hint of hope, making it, at times, almost unbearable to watch their dreary lives fall apart.
Phil Tayler sets the tone for the piece with his slow, methodically spoken George. Just beneath the surface there exists a cauldron of untapped emotions spanning from rage to compassion and, ultimately, great love for his friend Lennie (Harry McEnerny).
Though McEnerny does an impressive job with one of the most difficult roles an actor can play, he occasionally comes close to being a caricature, eliciting several uncomfortable giggles from audience members at this particular performance.
Ed Peed delivers a gut-wrenching turn as Candy, the old man who, like his dog, seems to have outlived his usefulness. Peed's weary resignation and simultaneous hope for a future that includes property ownership is genuinely heartbreaking.
Calvin Braxton's authentic portrayal of Crooks also packs an emotional wallop, while Erica Spyres proves once again that she can do anything with her imposing presence as Curly's Wife.
The production looks much better than it feels thanks to Fabian Aguilar's phenomenal costumes, Courtney Nelson's stark, functional set and Dan Rodriguez's haunting score.
If you go
‘Of Mice and Men’
BCA, 539 Tremont St., Boston