To Kill a Mockingbird - Review
Posted: 28 October 2006
Word Count: 621
To Kill a Mockingbird – Birmingham Rep Theatre –
Harper Lee’s iconic novel of racial prejudice, injustice, and humanity was presented as a powerhouse piece of theatre when it played to a sell out audience at Birmingham Rep Theatre.
The novel, set in 1935, in the fictional town of Maycomb tells the story of Atticus Finch, a principled, strong willed lawyer and his attempts to seek justice in an atmosphere filled with tension. The story is told from the view point of Scout and Jem, Atticus’s two children, and what they see unravelling in their small town.
The children, Scout and Jem and their friend Dill want a father who is more adventurous and exciting, and when they found out that he is the best shot in Maycomb county (after saving his street from a rabid dog) they are more impressed by him, but he wants to keep the fact a secret. One of their neighbour’s, a recluse named Boo Radley is a source of fascination for the children, and something of a local bogeyman. Atticus tells his children they should try to be more understanding saying that they don’t properly know a man until they have ‘tried walking around in his shoes’.
Gregory Peck played the part of Atticus Finch in the 1963 film, and his performance is widely seen as one of the defining performances in world film history. Duncan Preston, more widely known for his roles in comedy (Surgical Spirit, Acorn Antiques, and The Harry Enfield Show, to name a few) takes the role in this production. Gregory Peck played the role as a hero, but here it is played more as an everyman role. We see that Atticus Finch does not have the answers, he is simply a man trying to do his best to make the world a slightly better place, and to be an example to his children, and this gives the role much more humanity.
Three adult actors, Bettrys Jones playing eight year old Jean Louise Finch, Craig Vye as Jem Finch and Jean-Marc Perret as Charles Baker Harris (Dill – a part based around the author Truman Capote, a childhood friend of Harper Lee’s) had the emotional depth to play the wide eyed wonderment of childhood, and allowed the audience to suspend their disbelief.
In the role of Tom Robinson, an innocent black man charged with the rape of a white girl, Vinta Morgan played the role with the right amount of fear and panic. The scenes set in the courtroom were charged with emotion, with Atticus’s Finch’s soliloquy to the jury a heart felt plea to let humanity prevail over prejudice.
When the verdict is returned as guilty, the Finch children are as heartbroken as their father. Tom Robinson is later shot, trying to escape from Prison, while waiting for a retrial. Bob Ewell, who is responsible for the trial, having beaten up his own daughter to make Tom Robinson look responsible swears revenge on Finch, and harms both Jem and Scout trying to get back at the lawyer. The children are saved by the intervention of Boo Radley, who stabs Ewell. When the sheriff, Heck Tate (Stephen Casey) says Ewell fell on his knife, to spare Boo Radley from the limelight and attention it is a fitting ending to the story.
The themes contained within the play, such as racial and societal prejudice, a flawed justice system and bigotry, as well as the bravery that it takes for people to stand up and trying to make a change in a losing situation are as relevant today as they are in a book written in 1960’s and set in 1935.
The play runs at the Birmingham Rep Theatre until Saturday 18th November.
|Favourite this work||Favourite This Author|
Other work by Tigger23: ...view all work by Tigger23