Friday, 3 July 2015

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird at the Barbican Theatre

To Kill A Mockingbird 
Barbican Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 2nd July 2015

In the summer of 2013 I fell in love with Timothy Sheader's stunning production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Adapted from Harper Lee’s novel, the piece beautifully leant itself to the magical outdoor setting of the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.

When it was announced that the show was going on tour before transferring to the Barbican, I presumed Jon Bausor's design would be re-imagined for 'normal' theatres, but - impressively - the look and feel of the Open Air Theatre has been captured indoors. Visually the show remains almost identical, although some of the outside magic is lost.

Set in the Deep South, To Kill A Mockingbird sees racial injustice becoming the talk of a small town, dividing opinions from within the community. The story is told through the eyes of young Scout whose father is Atticus Finch, a lawyer who isn't afraid to speak up and attempts to inject compassion and strength into his community. 

I don't remember Christopher Sergel's adaptation kicking off to such a slow start, but as soon as it gets going and progresses into the second act the tension peaks at an almighty, gripping high. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. 

Robert Sean Leonard has reprised his portrayal of Atticus Finch at the Barbican and, once again, gives a brilliant performance. The three young actors are exceptional; they practically carry the show. Watching them witness the horrific trial brings an extra level of poignancy; it is truly heart breaking, many people sat around me were emotional.

As well as playing characters in the story, the ensemble cast narrate the piece, never leaving the stage. Sheader's production features moments of glorious storytelling. Gritty and thought-provoking, once it gets going To Kill A Mockingbird is gripping and hugely compelling - not to be missed. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

To Kill A Mockingbird runs at the Barbican Theatre until 25th July 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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