BWW Review: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is as Relevant as Ever, at Lakewood Theatre Company
If it's been a while since you read Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird or seen the movie for which Gregory Peck won an Oscar, now's the perfect time to revisit it. Lakewood Theatre Company's production of the play, directed by Brenda Hubbard, is very good and incredibly timely given that this story of racial injustice set in 1935 is disturbingly just as relevant today.
The story is the one you know. Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. He didn't do it. Everyone knows he didn't do it. In fact, it was physically impossible for him to do it. But that doesn't stop him from being tried and convicted, because when it comes right down to it, his crime is being black. It's a story we still see played out in the news all too often. What makes TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD even more poignant is that the story is told through the eyes a child, who can't understand why a person should be condemned simply for the color of his skin.
At Lakewood, the minute you walk in the theatre, you're transported back to 1930s Alabama by John Gerth and Demetri Pavlatos' superb set. You can almost feel the heat of the summer evenings.
The cast is led by the excellent Tim Blough in the role of Atticus Finch, who provides the play's moral leadership as the lawyer appointed to represent Tom (played by Aries Annitya). He's also the father of Scout (Kate McLellan), the young girl through whose eyes we experience the events. I was especially impressed by Mamie Colombero, who plays Mayella Ewell, the troubled young woman who has accused Tom, and Tony Green, who plays Bob Ewell, Mayella's father. He embodies the angry white man so well that he makes you uncomfortable simply by being on the stage.
Compared to the 90-minutes-no-intermission style of modern plays, this one is long and there are a few times when it feels that way. These occur when Christopher Sergel, who adapted the novel for the stage, felt it necessary to retain parts of the narration, mainly to mark the passage of time. Hubbard chooses to use these bits as set-change opportunities, which makes them extra long and awkward, despite the best attempts of Caren Graham, who delivers the lines.
But that's a small criticism. Overall, it's a great play well-presented - I cried four times. It's well worth an evening and a trip out to Lake Oswego.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD runs through December 10. More details and tickets here.