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"TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD"
Click to see Press Review
Click to see Christchurch Star Review
By Harper Lee
Directors: Rozena Hallum and Lin Clark
Performance Dates and times are:-
Time: 1930s Place: small town, Maycomb in Alabama, USA.
Christopher Sergel's superb adaptation of Harper Lee's much loved novel, seen through the eyes of a resourceful young girl, peels back the layers of middle America to reveal bigotry, racism, hatred and fear.
At the same time, it reveals humanity, courage, dignity and justice personified in one man, Atticus Finch. Against all odds he undertakes to defend the black man who stands accused.
As the central drama unfolds, another gentler story develops : that of the children and Boo Radley. This is a play of depth and complexity with excellent character roles.
PERFORMANCE DATES – August 8 – 16
Competent, enjoyable production of great story
Judging by the full house of mainly school students, Harper Lee's renowned novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, must still be as widely read and studied in schools as it ever was.
It is not hard to see why. Its combination of an evocative coming of age story and an unapologetic indictment of Southern racism make it a rare bird indeed. Its remembrance of things past is suffused with a moral intensity that makes the story doubly compelling.
As a play, it is less successful. Although the directors used slides at the beginning and the end, which took us from slavery to Barack Obama, the rather heavy-handed adaptation by Christopher Sergel gave the whole thing a somewhat dated feel theatrically. Somewhere, too, I felt the children's story gets lost to a degree.
The Repertory production opens strongly. The lighting and set were first rate. They really captured the feel and atmosphere of a rural Alabama town in 1935.
Zara Cormack as Jean Louise, who narrates the piece and plays Scout, has an engaging presence which immediately draws the audience in and her excellent Southern accent establishes just where we are. The other children, too, make very good work of their roles. The adults were a more uneven bunch and at times the play lost momentum. The trial scene, which takes up a large part of the play, never really generated the required tension and truthfulness, although Ballantyne Haynes, as Mayella, and Sam Carthy, as Tom Robinson, worked hard to produce the necessary emotional reality.
The production is enjoyable nonetheless. It is a competent rendering of a great story.
Reviewed by Alan Scott.
Mocking Bird Right On Song
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee adapted by Christopher Sergel, directed by Hallum and Clark, at the Repertory Theatre August 8-16. Running time two and a quarter hours with interval. Reviewed by Gus Eliot.
A little piece of hard times 1935 Alabama has come to compelling stage life in a theatre which predates it by half a decade, translating Lee's enthralling classic into a punchy tale for our times. For this class production frames its pleas for social justice in terms we recognise and respond to, without losing for a moment the poignancy and humour brought to the action by the three wonderfully convincing youngsters whose world is shaped so dramatically by events.
It is a richly textured world where all the power of the law cannot guarantee justice to an innocent black man who has shown simple kindness to a viciously impoverished white family. The young people learn a lot that summer about the best and worst of the adult world they must inherit.
Totally engaging characters guarantee that we share the experience. Andrew Bell as Atticus Finch, counsel for the defence, Sam Carthy as the accused man, Tom Robinson, and Zara Cormack as the feisty young Jean Louise (Scout) Finch head a simply outstanding cast.