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Capsule reviews of current shows.

Of Mice and Men. Is there anyone who doesn't remember the two central figures in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: quick-witted, enterprising George and his friend Lennie, with his child's mind in the body of a hulking, preternaturally strong man, who tends to kill small, smooth-furred things like mice and rabbits by petting them too hard? Scraping a living as itinerant farm workers — or bindle stiffs — the men sustain themselves with the dream of a ten-acre farm, but the bitter poverty of the rural world they inhabit shreds dreams and constricts lives. Since Steinbeck published his novella in 1937, George and Lennie have embedded themselves in the popular imagination. We also encounter other compelling characters, most particularly tough-minded, thoughtful Slim, who serves as the working men's moral arbiter; a tormented woman known only as Curley's Wife, trapped in an all-male world and attempting to use her sexuality to gain kindness and attention; and the friendly, talkative old farmhand Candy, who's accompanied wherever he goes by the ancient dog he raised from a puppy.  Of Mice and Men is set in Northern California, and a sense of place is crucial to its meaning and poetry. Director Terry Dodd has done well by the text: He's woven the sound of birdsong and rushing water into the action and set it on a convincingly detailed set. He has also assembled an excellent cast, and every one of them performs with conviction. Of Mice and Men is a period piece, and that's how this group plays it. But it's precisely because of the production's fidelity to a specific time and place that it feels universal. Presented by the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities through March 9, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200, Reviewed February 21.

Starship Troy: Fame. By 8 p.m. the place is jammed. The audience looks young, some as young as high-schoolers, others in college; there are couples, gay and straight, and a scattering of older folk. Starship Troy is one of Buntport's informal efforts to create cheap, fun, accessible theater. It is a dramatized cartoon, each episode lasting about 45 minutes. The premise: A dump truck orbits space on a mission to clean things up. Its addled crew includes all the usual Buntport suspects: Erik Edborg, who for some reason has dryer-duct tubing sticking out of his front and who cuddles a white stuffed animal; cynical Hannah Duggan; Erin Rollman as an expressionless android (watching Rollman trying to remain expressionless is a comic feast); half-ape Brian Colonna; and Evan Weissman as something, well, something epicene and highly sexualized. An audience member volunteers as Ensign McCoy, who — in a tribute to South Park's Kenny, and perhaps to the Goon Show's Bluebottle before him ("You have deaded me again!") — gets killed in every show. This is throwaway theater in the best sense. If a line thuds to earth, no matter; it's gone as soon as it's said. If a piece of business is pure brilliance — too bad! It'll never be seen again, either. But what the hell, there's always another episode. Presented by Buntport Theater every Tuesday and Wednesday through May, 717 Lipan Street, 720-946-1388, Reviewed November 15.

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