During the 1930s in the American south, racial tensions were at an all-time high. Harper Lee’s literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates these tensions beautifully and the stage production by Young People’s Theatre, directed by Allen MacInnis, was equally as successful.
YPT’s production had originally worried me. With such a sensitive topic and so many young people present, I was worried that the content may have been dimmed down. Instead, the production presented the issues in a dramatic and appropriate way. To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of the great lawyer Atticus Finch (Jeff Miller) and his children Jean Louis “Scout” Finch (Caroline Toal), Jem Finch (Noah Spitzer), as well as their friend Dill Harris (Tal Shulman). Atticus is asked to defend a black man named Tom Robinson (Matthew G. Brown), who is falsely accused of raping a white woman named Mayella Ewell (Jessica Moss).
To Kill a Mockingbird address two very Important issues at the same time. Firstly, it addresses the issues with racism in the American south in the 30s, but it also addresses the issue of what children should be exposed to. Scout is approximately 6 years old when the story begins and 8 when it ends. Although Atticus tries his best to shelter her and Jem from the events taking place, he is unsuccessful. It’s safe to say the show is quite metatheatrical; it is a play about sheltering children from graphic content being performed for a young audience.
I thoroughly enjoyed the stage set up and the use of space. The set, designed by Dana Osborne, consisted of 4 beautifully decorated trees that set the scene for both the streets and the courtroom depending on their positioning. Special mention goes to Jeff Miller for his portrayal of Atticus Finch – a difficult character to play because of his great hero status. Miller played this larger-than-life character beautifully – not overzealously, yet with enough of a grasp to pull the audience in from start to finish. YPT’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird did great justice to a literary classic.
To Kill a Mockingbird is playing at Young People’s Theatre until Nov. 2. For tickets and more information, visit www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca.