Currently, To Kill a Mockingbird probably reminds you of your Grade 9 literature class. After this show, the classic novel will probably remind you of high school teachers doing the dirty in the staff lounge. An interesting choice, Rob Kempson.
Stay with me here.
Kempson’s Mockingbird follows a bunch of English teachers at Finch Park Collegiate, where there’s some nasty rumours floating around about unscrupulous teacher-student relationships occurring in the very organized, clean, white staff lounge (designed by Brandon Kleiman). As these rumours start to surface, the tension in the teacher’s lounge grows as each teacher gets caught up in a slew of ethical debates that simply do not have a definitive answer.
Mockingbird is a show that is excessive in many ways. Vulgarity? Check. Sexual content? Check. A scandalous plotline involving a teacher and a student? Check. Check. A truckload of dramatics? You got it.
Oh, and some forbidden fruit symbolism. Crunch, crunch?
But behind all the overblown comedy, this piece provides its audience with necessary depth. Drawing on motifs from Harper Lee’s novel, Kempson presents his viewers with some tough ethical issues that may have you straddling a very grey line between right and wrong.
Each actor is strong and each character is memorable and unique with their own, very different perception of what is right, making this unsolvable fight all the more powerful.
At its core, this show is a battle between written rules and each person’s individual sense of morality. If something is legal, does that make it right? How about when love is involved? Where does professionalism come into play?
Kempson brilliantly poses all these questions in a setting where close personal relationships and professional rules co-exist, and we watch his tortured characters fight for their voices to be heard among the group.
Presented by timeshare, Mockingbird is playing at The Next Stage Theatre Festival until Jan. 17. For more information visit http://fringetoronto.com/next-stage-festival/listings/mockingbird/.