Skip to main content

To Kill A Mockingbird

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
It was noted recently that, as poignant and heartfelt as Harper Lee’s 1960 depression-set novel concerning ingrained racism in America’s deep South remained, the idea that an accused black man would even be dignified with a trial in such circumstances was pure fantasy. Nevertheless, there had been a precedent in a real live trial in the 1930s and, arriving as it did with the rise of the American civil rights movement, Lee’s rites-of-passage tale struck a major chord. Given too the current global climate of intolerance, its present-day reverberations are obvious.

Michael Buffong’s touring production of Christopher Sergel’s 1970 stage adaptation stays faithful to Lee’s original without ever being compromised by the far better known film version. If anything, this collaboration between Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse is at times too solidly workaday.

With such a familiar set-text classic, though, it’s what’s left unsaid that stands out. As Atticus Finch, the small-town lawyer who defends poor, black Tom Robinson, Duncan Preston makes for a tetchier, more recognisably flawed role model than the one we’ve come to expect. There are hints too, in alleged victim Mayella Ewell and her brutish father Bob, both text-book depictions of trailer-park white underclass, of unspoken abuse. Such aspersions, however, are shielded, in both Lee’s and Sergel’s texts, from the innocent sensibilities of Atticus’s offspring, Scout, Jem, and their gawky friend Dill.

As for Boo Radley, the solitary gentle giant who saves the children from Bob’s vengeful knife, in today’s climate of kneejerk vigilanteism, its doubtful he’d be left as alone as he is in a still touching reminder that tolerance is an ideal some would rather corrupt.

The Herald, February 22nd 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…