7-11 October 2014
Reviewed by Gemma Whates
I remember studying To Kill a Mockingbird at school (a long time ago now!) and the story has always stayed with me. The characters are so incredible and before the performance started I already had my own idea of what I thought they ‘should’ be like on stage. I had high hopes for this performance and I wasn’t disappointed.
The story is told through the eyes of Atticus Finch’s daughter Scout, played by a very talented Jemima Bennett. Atticus is chosen to defend a black man named Tom Robinson after he is convicted of raping a white girl. The story famously tackles themes of racial equality, destruction of innocence, class, courage and compassion with light-heartedness, humour and honesty.
We had excellent seats in the front stalls and had a brilliant view of the stage. The performance opened to a simple yet effective set. To the left and right of the stage the actors had seats where they sat to ‘read’ the To Kill a Mockingbird text when they weren’t centre stage, as if they were following the story like us. This was part of the very clever narration through the play. Other than Atticus and his children Scout, Jem and Dill, the characters would step up on stage to read from their text. It was a beautiful way to hold the story together and all cast members brought a different emotion to the performance as they swapped between their character and narrator roles.
The first half of the performance set the scene and introduced most of the characters. There were moments of humour brought to us mainly by Scout, Jem and Dill. It was a chance to really get to know the characters. The overall light-hearted tone was peppered with moments of raw emotion, when we realise that Boo Radley is leaving gifts in the tree for the children, when Atticus goes to guard Tom Robinson’s door and most pointedly, as the first half of the play came to an end, we saw a brilliant scene from Scot and Jem as they lie in bed and talk about the death of their mother. It was the perfect lead in to an emotional charged post-interval court room.
After the interval, during which was enjoyed excellent service in the bar, we opened to a court room scene. We saw Tom Robinson take the stand as the audience played the role of jury. It was enthralling, fast moving and breath taking at moments. Character interpretations were incredible and believable. We were taken on an emotional roller-coaster of sadness and determination. We saw such a true and real portrayal of the varying emotions of a community living in an unjust society.
We left feeling like we wanted to be more like Atticus. Played absolutely brilliantly by an amazing Daniel Betts, Atticus gave an incredibly real performance. Tom Robinson, played by Zackary Momoh also gave a stand out performance in our opinion. The raw emotion he was able to show on stage really made the story believable. We watched a truly talented cast. You need to go and see this. It will give you a feeling of gratitude and perspective without you realising at the time.
Tickets cost from £11.90 to £40.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
To Kill a Mockingbird is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until 11 October 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7645.
New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ