Wednesday, 29 May 2013

To Kill A Mocking Bird, Regents Park: Theatre Review

To Kill A Mocking Bird was first published in 1960 and since then has never been out of print. A book about civil rights, Racial Injustice and courage; this story could have ruined author Harper Lee’s career, instead, it did the opposite. To Kill A Mocking Bird is the first of four productions that are to be staged at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park this season, after seeing A Midsummer Nights Dream at the theatre the previous year I had high expectations for this. 
The play is very touching, the audience are drawn into the characters and during the trial, really get taken into the events and become the jury. Timothy Sheader directs this production and I must say that he has done a good job of it, combined with the other design aspects of the production it was visually beautiful. He really has put a lot of emphasis on the actual telling of the story, the audience have to bring their imagination and build upon that. He’s got the ensemble to read Scouts Narration from the book which really pulls everything together and reminds you that this story is from a young persons point of view.
Jon Bausor designs the show, starting with a bare stage, expect a tree, the actors literally draw the map of the road where the play takes play on the stage with chalk. Very reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time design I thought. One thing I wasn’t loving was the backdrop, just a black background that changed colour. It was very out of place and I kind of wished they could have used their natural surroundin
gs as the backdrop, it would have been a lot more beautiful then. 
I loved the addition of Phil King, he is the composer of the music within the play and also performs it. I just wish he would have been listed with the cast in the programme, would have saved me a lot of time trying to look for him! He has a wonderful voice and is a brilliant addition to the production. 
The lighting Design by Oliver Fenwick really highlights the gorgeousness of this theatre, he uses the natural light to his advantage and when it gets darker his lighting is stunning! 
The children in this production are the gems of the show, I saw Lucy Hutchinson as Scout, Gus Barry as Jem and Ewan Harris as Dill. All gave a brilliant performance and handled the themes of the story with maturity which was very obvious to the audience, they really drove the story. Robert Sean Leonard plays Atticus Finch, his stage presence is mesmerising. Commanding the stage fully and has an amazing control and power over the character. 
I’d like to make a special mention for Michele Austin and Rona Morison, two performances that really stood out for me. Michele had great consistency as the Housekeeper, Calpurnia and Rona gave a really heartbreaking performance as Mayella Ewell.  
The first act is quite slow but it picks up in the second act. 
The production is storytelling at its best, the focus on that is very clear. However I do feel there isn’t really a very clear interpretation, to me they seem to have stripped back the story but haven’t built upon that. The cast don’t seem to have any reason as to why they are telling this story, if they did then it would have been a lot more dynamic for the audience. Saying that though I did enjoy the production, its a good show and will no doubtably be enjoyed by all ages. 
I wouldn’t describe this production to be the one to catch out of the four this season but I’d encourage you to see it to experience this powerful play. 
You may want to take a nice, warm coat and a waterproof poncho just in case! 

Rating: ***

To Kill A Mockingbird plays at Regents Park, Open Air Theatre until 15th June 2013

Cast Includes: Robert Sean Leonard, Michele Austin, Richie Campbell, Christopher Ettridge, Tom Godwin, Simon Gregor, Stephen Kennedy, Phil King, Hattie Ladbury, Julie Legrand, Rona Morison, Joe Speare, Daniel Tuite, Izzy Lee, Lucy Hutchinson, Adam Scotland, Ewan Harris, Lucy Hutchinson, Gus Barry, Sebastian Clifford, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Callum Henderson and Harry Bennett. 

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