Friday, 19 September 2014

Theatre review - To Kill a Mockingbird

Mrs F, Daughter-of-Furtheron and I went to the theatre last night to see a touring production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Really enjoyed it.  I was half wondering how they'd stage it, the book is long with a complex set of intertwining plots written from a young girls point of view.  Through her innocence and naivety she exposes the prejudice and bigotry she sees in adults around her.  That is one of the things that makes Harper Lee's astonishing novel one of the most studied texts in the world of the English Language.  Also there is a lot of different settings, the Finch family yard, the Radley House, the street they live in and the courthouse where the trial of the negro Tom Robinson is the climax of the whole story.

The actors play characters but also take it in turns to be narrators reading as though Scout directly from the book.  This was clever, reminding you it was Scout's point of view throughout.  At the beginning of the play the stage which had been constructed on a slope toward the audience was a plain stage with little props other than the tree in the Finch's yard that is key in points of the story.  The actors with big lumps of chalk, like kids do near me where you can pick chalk up out the ground (we live on the chalk upland known as the Downs in England) drew out the street the houses etc.  This gave it a playground look and feel - making you feel again like seeing it through a child's eye as the book intended.

For the main courtroom drama the full stage was used but cleverly all the actors were position so that you the audience were made to feel like the jury.  Whenever an actor addressed the jury they looked straight out into the audience.  Of course this drew you in you felt sure you couldn't have returned any other verdict except... (I'll not spoil it if you are one of the dozen who don't know the story)... but of course this was in 1935 in Alabama and a Negro was on trial for raping a white woman.  What would I have done?  Again a theme in the book is repeated where Atticus Finch tried to get his children to see the world from other peoples points of view, so by making you feel part of the jury you are drawn into this conundrum of believing you would act in a certain way, but as someone 70 years on in a completely different multicultural society.

Brilliant all round, great writing to move it to the stage but not lose some important aspects of the text, clever production again to help with that setting of the point of view of the audience aligning with key characters of themes within the story.  Go see it if you get the chance!


3 comments:

  1. I love that book and the movie. If a version of this production comes near me, I'll check it out and hope it's half as good as what you reviewed.

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  2. It has been many o' moons since I've seen live theater, must do again sometime.

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  3. Sounds excellent. You do wonder how they can adapt some books for stage and it's marvellous when it comes off well.

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