The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is both beautiful and powerful. Set indoors for the purpose of the its UK tour and stopping at Salford’s The Lowry the play opens with the ensemble walking through the audience to get to the stage where Director Timothy Sheader has made the decision to have them stay in full view throughout, taking on a number of different roles.
It is a lovely device that proves successful because the talented cast immerse themselves in each character and when sat at the side observing the action seem totally absorbed in what is going on (despite the fact they have seen the show night after night). Designer Jon Bauser has created a simple set which allows for the actors to remain the focal point. A singular tree forms the main area around which the action takes place with a corrugated plastic wall and the use of atmospheric lighting from Oliver Fenwick to reflect the mood.
If you are of a certain age you may have found the Harper Lee novel on your GCSE syllabus – something that remains unchanged today judging by the teenage filled audience on the first night. For those who have never read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel or seen the 1962 film version starring Gregory Peck, the story is set in the 1930s deep South, at a time when racism was rife and it was perfectly acceptable to call black people the ‘n’ word without anyone shamefully batting an eyelid. When Tom Robinson is accused of rape by a young white woman it soon online casino becomes clear he is not on trial to prove his innocence, he is there to defend the colour of his skin. We see his battle played out through the eyes of six -year old Scout, whose father Atticus is tasked with the almost impossible job of clearing Tom’s name.
There’s a bunch of talented youngsters at the helm of this cast, all of whom are astounding for their acting ability and professionalism at handling such huge chunks of script. Rosie Boore puts in an outstanding performance as passionate tomboy Scout who would rather solve fights with her fists than her head and Milo Panni is equally as engaging as pint sized fantasist Dill, playing the part with an infectious energy.
Daniel Betts brings it all together as Atticus with his mild manner and calming demeanour whilst Zackary Momoh as Tom Robinson delivers a powerful and heart-breaking display of a broken man with no way out.
This a clever production which uses lots of devices to make the telling of one of the world’s most famous novels stay fresh. From the use of song between key scenes and the refreshing sound of regional accents narrating the story straight from the pages of different covered versions of the book –it works.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s To Kill A Mockingbird will touch your heart and is definitely worth seeing if you can catch the tour before it finishes in July.
Runs at The Lowry until 23rd May