Giving a book glorious life

To Kill A Mockingbird

Malvern Theatres

*****

HARPER Lee's supreme tale of bigotry and honour in the deep south of 1930s America through the innocent eyes of a child has been read by generations of schoolchildren.

Its continuous appeal along with its presence on the school curriculum means that it still sells nearly one million copies a year to this day.

So, it's a clever touch to make each actor in this production also a reader of the book (like most members of the audience will have been at some point in their life).

When their character is not in the plot, the actorsmocking bird sit around the edge of the stage engrossed in dog-earred copies of the novel, as though the action is being created by the words on the page going through their minds.

That is just one of the fresh approaches to this latest production, which has already secured success in London's West End and is now touring the UK.

It brilliantly toes the line between adding something new but also keeping very true to the mesmerising story, as well as the award-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

And what a story it is. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is narrated by young tomboy Scout as she, her brother Jem and friend Dill encounter racial injustice in their small town, and what it means to stand by your principles, even when everything stands against you.

Learning to understand the reasoning behind their honourable lawyer father Atticus Finch, their scary neighbour Boo Radley and why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, it's a seamless story that packs a powerful punch on morality.

All the cast is in fine form but what makes this production so superb is the talented young actors, who are key to the whole performance.

Three children share the lead roles but I saw Rosie Boore as Scout, Billy Price as Jem and Milo Panni as Dill, who were all exceptional, especially at maintaining their southern drawls.

It's a worthy adaptation of a well-loved novel, and like the book, it will leave you emotional yet also inspired to lead a more admirable life.To 04-10-14

Alison Brinkworth

29-09-14

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