Following sell-out performances at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the highly-acclaimed new production of To Kill A Mockingbird starts its tour with us at The Marlowe tomorrow night (Tuesday 16 September).
Press Officer Sarah Munday and Arts Marketing Trainee Lucie Blockley were lucky enough to catch it as it wound up its (second) season at the Open Air Theatre.
Sitting in the glaring afternoon sun at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre, I felt a step closer to the hot Deep South summer unfolding onstage before me.
The weather was playing its part in creating a fitting atmosphere for the production, with the assistance of the greenery and soundscape of Regent’s Park as a backdrop.
The audience were transported into Depression-era Alabama through the narration of eight-year-old Scout, with the inventive use of setting and storytelling. The stage itself started as a clean slate, but quickly became a chalk-drawn map of Maycomb, evolving constantly with the story’s twists and turns.
By doing away with excessive trappings of costume and props, I was completely sucked into Scout’s world and the tragic events unfolding. Even whilst competing with the helicopters, thumping music and general racket of central London, the cast held a completely captivated audience in this fantastic adaptation.
I guess like most people, To Kill A Mockingbird was a classic I read at school, many years ago. Along with titles like The Catcher In The Rye, Wuthering Heights, and 1984, these amazing books have stayed with me all this time.
The mists of time may have clouded my mind, but minutes into the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s superb production of Mockingbird, the characters of Harper Lee’s novel came back to life!
With a sparse set, it was left to the excellent cast (with special mention to Daniel Betts as Atticus Finch, and Ava Potter – in her acting debut – as his daughter, Scout), and the words of the book, to tell the tale of racial injustice in America’s Deep South in the 1930s.
The small cast are planted amongst the audience at the start of play; the first we are aware of them is as each stand in turn to read from the pages.
Once on stage, each still clutching their copy of the book, they continue with the narration, interspersed with the words and actions of the characters they occasionally become (with the help of some very clever costume changes).
The books each actor carries play an important role until the very end: but I won’t spoil it here by telling you what happens!
As Lucie says, the production did have to battle against a busy London soundscape, but this provided small distraction (to the audience; most certainly not to the cast), which we won’t experience in the confines of The Marlowe Theatre.
Having said this, it will be interesting to see how Mockingbird transfers from the reasonably intimate setting of the Regent’s Park theatre, to our main auditorium. Either way, I urge you not to miss this mesmerising and deeply moving production.
To Kill A Mockingbird is at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 September. A limited number of discounted Discovery Tickets are available for anyone aged 16-26 years or full-time students (over 16 years).