To Kill A Mockingbird is a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s very popular and much loved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, which has become a classic of modern American literature. Set in the Deep South, in the fictional town of Maycomb, it examines a small-town community, its people and its attitudes in great depth, honing in on the issue of Race. Overall I thought this stage adaptation was excellent. I can't give a production higher praise than to say it stayed true to the novel, brought it to life, and recreated the whole world of the novel on stage. This stage version of To Kill A Mockingbird really captured the spirit of the novel and I loved it. Highly recommended. Must-see!
My EQView Review of To Kill A Mockingbird is here:
Cut and pasted from the EQView website:
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – REVIEW
To Kill A Mockingbird is a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s very popular and much loved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, which has become a classic of modern American literature. Set in the Deep South, in the fictional town of Maycomb, it examines a small-town community, its people and its attitudes in great depth, honing in on the issue of race.
I booked to see this production because To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favourite novels of all time and it really speaks to my heart. There are three main reasons why I love the novel. First, it is told entirely from a child’s (Scout’s) point of view – so you see the events unfold as a child sees them and experiences them. Second, I find the character of Atticus Finch truly inspirational. Atticus follows his conscience, stands by his principles and does what he believes to be right. Atticus is a character I aspire to be. Third, the novel reveals and exposes the deep racism that ran through society in the Deep South at this time, infecting hearts and minds.
I was really looking forward to seeing this stage adaptation because I value the work of the Open Air Theatre’s current Artistic Director, Timothy Sheader, who directed this production. I loved Sheader’s Open Air Theatre productions of Lord of the Flies, The Crucible and Into the Woods, and so I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with To Kill A Mockingbird. I was not disappointed!
This stage production has the most inventive opening I have seen for a long time. The actors were dispersed amongst the audience, on all levels, on all sides. At the beginning, one after another, they got up and stood on their seats, with the novel in their hands, and read a few sentences from the novel, setting the scene. Once they had all read a section, they got down, and walked towards and onto the stage. I thought that was a very effective opening as it knitted the actors and the audience together as one body at the start, and drew the audience into the world of the play right from the off.
When you arrive at the theatre, all there is on stage is a tree. When the actors get onto the stage, they each take a piece of chalk and draw some of the set onto the floor of the stage. What you have at the end of five minutes is a map of the street where the Finches live, with the road, its houses, and arrows pointing to the town, the jail, the dump, the school etc. This was a stroke of genius.
The production is very true to the novel and I liked the way that, throughout the play, actors would be carrying the novel in their hands and reading selected sections direct from the novel.
The first half hour, before the key character Atticus Finch arrives onstage, introduces us to the real stars of the production – the child actors playing Scout, Jem and Dill – and perfectly recreates the street that Atticus and his children live on, the characters that inhabit that environment, and the town of Maycomb which is their home. The first half of the play is light in tone, and focuses on the characters of Scout, Jem and Dill, and the adventures they have in their Summer holidays when school is out.
But even in the first half, we the audience are made aware that dark clouds are gathering, and trouble is brewing, because we hear of the arrest of Tom Robinson, the trouble this brings to his family, and we learn that Atticus has been chosen to defend Tom.
After the interval, a fair proportion of the action takes place in the courtroom, and the audience becomes the jury. You are very much a part of the packed courtroom that hot and fateful day in Maycomb and you bear witness to the court proceedings. As such, you get to experience the trial first-hand, see the effect on each of the key characters, and experience its repercussions.
Music is an integral part of the production and I enjoyed the way songs were woven into the fabric of the story throughout the play. The live music really added to the atmosphere, as it was effective in setting the scene, and conveying the emotions felt by the characters at that point in time.
The ensemble acting was very strong across the piece, with many actors taking on multiple roles, and special mention has to be made of the three child actors playing the central parts of Scout, Jem and Dill. These are major roles in the production, the production hinges on their performances, and all the child actors were just brilliant – and very natural too.
Overall I thought this stage adaptation was excellent. The cast brought the novel vividly to life on the stage. All the nuances, all the key scenes, all the characters, were faithfully presented. I can’t give a production higher praise than to say it stayed true to the novel, brought it to life, and recreated the whole world of the novel on stage. This stage version of To Kill A Mockingbird really captured the spirit of the novel and I loved it. Highly recommended. Must-see!
I would like to close with one of my favourite quotes from the novel, featured in this production, which is a piece of advice that Atticus gives to his daughter Scout,“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
To Kill A Mockingbird played at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park in Summer 2014 and is now on a UK wide tour, which will conclude with a run at the Barbican in London in June and July 2015.
For more details about the production and to book tickets follow the link below: