Review by Dave Smith
Independent Theatre’s revival of their 2007 production of To Kill a Mockingbird was wonderful theatre. Director Rob Croser and cast feelingly evoked the place, time and mood of Harper Lee’s powerful novel.
David Roach led from the front. He had the required empathy and gravity and kept the large opening night audience rapt. His climactic courtroom speeches, especially when addressing the audience as jury, were outstanding.
The three main children’s roles were very well cast. Emma Bleby as Scout, Mark Mulders as Jem and Jake Billich as Dill were strong, convincing and consistent. Their ensemble work with each other and the range of adults was exceptional.
Lyn Wilson as the adult Scout effortlessly narrated the whole piece with the character’s distinctive straight-talking style. She was well placed for all of her important speeches and, together with the rest of the ensemble, handled the transitions from action to narration with fluency and ease.
Poni Tongun (Calpurnia), Shedrick Yarkpai (Tom Robinson), Michaela Burger (Mayella Ewell) and Claire Schofield (Maudie Atkinson) all provided notable performances.
The set, cleverly designed by Croser and Roach, looked impressive and the big cast moved naturally in and around its features. The main set sufficed for all scenes. That device allowed for smooth transitions and, thanks to the casts’ clear focus, was readily accepted by the audience. The only constraints were when occasional important upstage actions were partly obscured by sections of the buildings.
The production’s mood flowed from pathos to anger to gentleness in their turn. The company managed that without ever descending to melodrama. That was a major feat, one of several achieved by this memorable performance.