To Kill a Mocking Bird is a ‘Classic’ in the true sense of the word. It is a fascinating study of racial prejudice in the South of America before the Civil Rights era. The story is as powerful today as when the book was first released in 1960.
The narrator, Jean Louise Finch (Scout) played sensitively by Jacqueline Wood and acted convincingly by Grace Rowe lives in a world that is shattered by the distasteful realisation that all consuming racism is rife in her home town of Maycomb. So the story unfolds as Atticus Finch, her lawyer father, understatedly played with pathos and total creditability by Duncan Preston sets about defending a local black man accused of raping a white woman. This flies in the face of the endemic racism in their society and provokes an outrage, which threatens to engulf the whole family. Although, in parts, the play is slow in pace the production is both moving and uncomfortable at times to witness.
In practical terms I find the simplistic yet effective set somewhat flawed. The ‘Radley’ tree, which is pivotal to the plot, sways about every time it is touched and characters can be seen moving through supposedly solid walls in the houses. The background photography is difficult to see and does not synchronise with the voices and action on stage. The music is too loud in places to clearly hear ‘plot’ and some of the ‘southern drawl’ accents are hard to understand. Perhaps my personal recollection of the book, read many years ago, just doesn’t translate to the stage version. That said the audience clearly appreciates the fine acting, to the point of ovation, in this timeless piece.