Having always had a place in my heart for the Pulitzer prize-winning novel, I was excited to see his classic story brought to the stage. This however is adapted from Harper Lee’s original book by Aaron Sorkin.
To Kill A Mockingbird is based in racially intolerant 1930’s Alabama. When Tom Robinson, a black male, is falsely accused of raping a white female Mayella Ewell, white lawyer Atticus Finch acts as his lawyer. Knowing this was the right thing to do, Finch happily takes on the case much to the anger of many of the town of Maycomb.
Matthew Modine is utterly captivating as Atticus Finch, who personifies warmth, justice, and respect through his powerful portrayal. Unlike in the book where daughter Scout is the protagonist, in this production it is lawyer Atticus Finch who leads proceedings. This clever departure from the source material allows Modine to shine. The cast is large and generally strong, aside from a few questionable accents. The piece is brought to life with light-hearted humour brought by the characters of the ‘children’, who are well played by adult actors.
Set design by Miriam Buether is all too deserving of its Tony nomination. Larging lifting parts of the stage floor, alongside moving set pieces make for seamless transitions of scenes; from the Finch’s porch to the courtroom and beyond.
Whilst pacing is mainly good, I feel overall time could have been shaved off the show, which runs at around 3 hours. It is the courtroom scenes where the show comes to life. The tension is theatrical perfection, and you really feel like you are there in the moment. It strongly shines a light on the issues of racism, lies and doing the right thing through all the characters involved.
This can be uncomfortable at times, but that is the point and it does it well. Sadly this story still resonates in 2023 and we still have somewhere to go to true equality. That is why plays like this are so important to keep the conversation going.
'To Kill A Mockingbird' is on at Gielgud Theatre until 02 May 2023. Full booking info below:
Photo credit: Mark Brenner
Note: My ticket was paid for by myself. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.