To Kill A Mockingbird @ The Mayflower, Southampton
We loved this charming production when we saw it in Chichester’s intimate Festival Theatre, but will admit to having reservations about how well it would fit in at the vast Mayflower. Emma van Kooperen is our roving reporter letting us know just how unfounded our worries were…
Considered one of the great American novels, Harper Lee’s tale of racial prejudice in the Deep South has come to the Mayflower as a touring production that originated at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. From the beginning the audience is drawn in to Timothy Sheader’s production, with the actors reading, in their natural accents, excerpts from the book and despite the size of the theatre, setting an intimate tone which carries on throughout the piece. The actors, slipping between character and storyteller, never leaving the stage does not detract from the piece but helps to pull the audience in further as the play progresses.
Three very talented child actors make up the core of the cast. Arthur Franks plays older brother Jem with a dignity echoing that of Daniel Betts’ Atticus, at times wise beyond his years. Connor Brundish makes for a cocky, but charming Dill, easily taking the audience along with his wild stories. Ava Potter excels as Scout Finch, observing and questioning the goings on in Maycombe with an endearing innocence, she acts as the moral compass with a natural ease.
Elsewhere it’s truly an ensemble piece, but Zachary Momoh portrays Tom Robinson with heartbreaking vulnerability, showing us how difficult it was to simply stand up in court and be treated as an honest citizen if you had the wrong colour skin!
It’s telling that despite the Mayflower’s vast auditorium this is still an incredibly intimate production that effortlessly draws the audience in and accurately captures the wide-eyed, youthful tone of Lee’s original text.