To Kill a Mockingbird
“A mist of memories wafts over this delicate and affectionate production of To Kill a Mockingbird,” said Frank Rizzo in Variety. There are one’s personal memories of “parental protection and innocence in simpler times.” There’s the memory of the beloved book by Harper Lee. And then there are the memories of the 1962 screenplay, written by the recently deceased Horton Foote, and drawn on here by director Michael Wilson in his reworking of Christopher Sergel’s 1970 script. Wilson “places the Foote-print squarely on this production, keeping the staging simple, the sentimentality in check, and the performances true to the novel.” The playwright/screenwriter’s daughter, Hallie Foote, also gives a touching performance as the play’s narrator, the adult Jean Louise “Scout” Finch.
The rest of the cast of 28, headed by Matthew Modine, is likewise strong, said Susan Hood in The Hartford Courant. Modine radiates “humanity, integrity, and good humor” as lawyer/moral compass Atticus Finch, whose defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman sets in motion the play’s exploration of racism and injustice in the pre-civil-rights South. Olivia Scott, Henry Hodges, and Andrew Shipman “bear much of the play’s weight” as, respectively, the young Scout; her older brother, Jem; and their best friend, Dill. Through their eyes and ears, “the audience encounters hypocrisy, evil, empathy, and the true measure of a human being,” and the young actors capably communicate the play’s messages. Five decades after the book’s first publication, and following the election of the nation’s first black president, there’s again a need “to discover, or rediscover,” this seminal work.