As the audience enter the theatre, they hear the mournful sound of a banjo singing the blues, see a thick fog wafting from the stage, and sense basic wooden walls on an atmospheric set.

Thus begins this exciting new production of one of the most powerful and moving stories in modern American literature.

Set in the desperate days of the 1930s Great Depression, this is also a play for today with its haunting reminders of the importance of family, home, and the need for safety and human happiness.

John Steinbeck’s wonderful Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning novels including The Pearl, The Grapes Of Wrath, and his final beautiful travelogue Travels With Charley, all connect with this moving stage play to reveal this writer’s mastery of narrative, characterisation, dialogue and atmosphere, yet above all his compassion for ordinary people.

Among ten superb actors, particularly outstanding are Richard Keightley as achingly desperate George, Matthew Wynn as his compellingly doomed buddy Lenny, and Andrew Boyer as old Candy, ripped apart by the cruel death of his much-loved dog and his simple hopes and dreams.

The imaginative set design and dark atmospheric lighting emphasise the menace, fear and fright of these realistically itinerant migrant workers.

Steinbeck even manages to make statements about black and disabled people – exemplified by the prickly Crooks – and the role of women, demonstrated by lonely unnamed Curley’s Wife.

This fantastic play runs until Saturday, matinees Thursday and Saturday. For tickets, visit:

Brendan McCusker