To Kill A Mockingbird is based on the 1960 book by Harper Lee. Set in 1930’s rural Alabama, where black people are still slaves and life is quiet and simple in small American towns. Told through the eyes of the children, Scout and Jem spend their days walking the streets and hunting down the mysterious recluse Boo Radley, who lives in the neighbourhood. The children become aware of a court case their father, Atticus Finch is working on, defending a black man who is accused of raping a local white girl. The trial ensues and the evidence clearly proves Tom Robinson could not have committed the crime. But this is a time when no black man had ever been found not guilty in court. Could this be the first time or will the jury be too afraid to make the leap in society. To Kill A Mockingbird is a story of racism, equality and just how far society has come in recent years for acceptance.
The set design of this show is simple and incredible, with rusty fences around the stage and a tree in the middle with an old tyre hanging from it as a swing, giving a real feeling of being outside. Fences are brought in and out throughout the show and diagrams are drawn on the stage with chalk.
To Kill A Mockingbird is presented like a children’s story time, with each actor holding a different copy of the book that has been published over the years. They take it in turns to read the story aloud to the audience whilst other cast members dress in the appropriate costumes to play the parts in each scene. All done without leaving the stage which is incredibly magical to watch. Music is interspersed by Phil King throughout the show giving a folk take type feeling.
The stars of this show are undoubtedly the children who play Scout, Jem and Dill. Ava Potter’s thick American accent and bossy demeanour are perfect for Scout whilst Tommy Rodger and Connor Brundish give excellent performances as Jem and Dill. To be acting like this at such a young age goes to show that some people are born with it inside them. Susan Lawson-Reynolds (as maid Calpurnia), Natalie Grady (as Maudie) and Zachary Momoh (as Tom Robinson) all give stand out performances too, adding just a little extra sparkle than the others (who are all incredibly talented).
To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic story which remains sadly as relevant today as it did all those years ago when it was released. It does however show how far we have come as a society and is beautifully told and adapted for this stage version.
I can’t recommend this show enough.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo Johan Persson
To Kill A Mockingbird is playing at the Barbican until 25 July 2015. Click here for tickets