It’s a text studied in almost every high school English classroom around the world, winner of numerous awards and a fan favourite – and now To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee hits the Civic Theatre as part of Auckland Theatre Company’s 2016 season. Featuring an all-star cast, some highly talented youngsters and a collection of both convincing and questionable southern accents, this production is a highly professional achievement.
The plot is well known; Set in America’s deep south, Lawyer Atticus Finch is seeking truth and justice for a young black man accused of raping a white women. His young children Jem and Scout are obviously influenced and intrigued by this trial and through their observations hold the mirror up to the hypocrisy and hatred of the time.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless coming of age tale dealing with heavy subjects through the eyes of young Scout. Tackling issues such as rape, abuse and racial discrimination all while maintaining an optimistic tone along with bursts of humour makes the production enjoyable and thought-provoking. The relatively short runtime allows for the plot to move fast without removing any of the dramatic intensity of the text.
All of the cast, in particular Simon Prast in a subtle-yet-excellent turn as lawyer Atticus Finch, should be commended for their performances. Director Colin McColl and set designer Andrew Foster should be also, allowing the text to feel effortlessly alive on stage. The set design is abstract and conceptual, yet after a short amount of time feels natural.
My only critiques are very minor gripes and purely technological, with some speaker issues early on along with some microphone disruptions pulling me out of the story momentarily.
This is a superb production and one which I would highly recommend to audiences of all ages.
Reviewed by Steward Sowman-Lund
PHOTO CREDIT MICHAEL SMITH.