TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: adapted by Christopher Segal.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555
Touring Details: Touring Consortium and the York Theatre Royal.
Runs: 2h 25m: one interval: till 19th March.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and Thurs and 2.30pm Sat).
Captioned Performance: Weds 7.30pm.
Audio Described Performance: Sat 2.30pm.
Review: Alan Geary: 15th March 2011.

Some howling problems but much else to enjoy.
Mocking Bird offers scope for the Southern cliché. Here we get sweaty men in white suits fanning themselves, rednecks and white trash in dungarees, a God-fearing pastor, the KKK, and a sheriff who looks like Colonel Saunders out of KFC.

Seen through the eyes of an eleven-year-old girl and, simultaneously, that same child as an adult, this story of a small-town lawyer defending a black man on a rape charge is an American classic. There are some howling problems with this new production but it mostly manages to be compelling.

Some of the acting is a problem, and it’s not just a matter of the wandering accents.

In the first half Andy Hockley’s Sheriff is unconvincing. So is Dill (Graeme Dalling), who initially looks and behaves like a ventriloquist’s extremely camp dummy – that Harper Lee based Dill on Truman Capote might explain and/or excuse. Throughout the play he, and fellow youngster Jem (Matthew Pattimore), are badly over emphasised.

Mrs Dubose (Tina Gray) too often sounds like a cartoon duck. Victim Mayella Ewell (Clare Corbett), until the nemesis on the witness stand, is over-played on the craziness front. Jean Louise Finch (Jacqueline Wood), narrator and adult alter-ego of Scout, is frequently over-loud, and she stalks about too much.

Away from the acting, it’s never obvious what purpose the spasmodic back-projection serves; it seems merely to get in the way.

There are positives. The trial scene, in effect using the audience as jury, is gripping. An austere clapboard set, at first disconcerting, is a good idea. And there are some excellent performances.

Duncan Preston, returning as Atticus Finch, is a superb integrity figure. Big and commanding, at the same time as being an unwilling action man, he moves a bit like John Wayne. His summing-up speech is impressive.

Scout (Grace Rowe) is handled well. So too are the bad boys. You can smell Mark White’s Bob Ewell as soon as he comes on for the trial; the cocky sprawl all over the chair is completely right. Robin Simpson’s Mr Gilmer, the wild-eyed racist prosecutor, is horribly well played.

There’s much to enjoy.

Calpurnia: Jacqueline Boatswain.
Rev Sykes: Geoffrey Burton.
Mayella Ewell: Clare Corbett.
Dill: Graeme Dalling.
Miss Stephanie/Mrs Dobose: Tina Gray.
Heck Tate: Andy Hockley.
Tom Robinson: Cornelius Macarthy.
Miss Maudie: Elizabeth Moynihan.
Jem: Matthew Pattimore.
Judge Taylor: Robert Pickavance.
Atticus Finch: Duncan Preston.
Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley: Matthew Rickson.
Scout Finch: Grace Rowe.
Nathan Radley/Mr Gilmer: Robert Simpson.
Helen Robinson: Elexi Walker.
Bob Ewell: Mark White.
Jean Louise Finch: Jacqueline Wood.
Ensemble/Citizen: Venetia Maitland.
Link Deas/Ensemble/Citizen: Phil Pritchard.
Ensemble/Citizen: Imogen Smith.
Ensemble/Citizen: Des Yankson.

Director: Damien Cruden.
Designer: Liam Doona.
Lighting Designer: Richard G Jones.
Fight Director: Liam Evans-Ford.

2011-03-19 17:34:03

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