Theatre in Wales

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An exceptional theatrical experience

To Kill a Mockingbird

Clwyd Theatr Cymru , Theatr Clwyd, Mold , February 12, 2010
To Kill a Mockingbird by Clwyd Theatr Cymru A few years ago Tim Baker directed a magnificent and award winning production of this play, based on the book that most people know from the fine film starring Gregory Peck. Now he has revived it and after the Mold run it will tour throughout Wales.

So is it as good as it was? The answer to that comes not just from me saying an emphatic
“Yes, it certainly is”, but from the spontaneous standing ovation it received on its first night.

On a spare set evoking a bare country road in 1935 Alabama the cast re-enact the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man, for raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Appearing for the defence is Atticus Finch, a lawyer of utter integrity who believes in the law and in the basic goodness of man. We experience the events through the eyes of his tomboy daughter Scout, asker of awkward questions who is never afraid to stand up for herself and those she loves.

The story of life in the small town, of the trial and its aftermath is gripping and emotional. Music and singing are incorporated to stunning effect, not just Denise Orita's show-stopping gospel hymn. What will mainly lodge in your memory though is the acting.

Gwyn Vaughan Jones is once more superb as Atticus. His summing up to the jury is one of the most sustained pieces of quiet oratory that you will ever hear, it's spellbinding. Amy Morgan is a delight as Scout and the relationship with her older brother Jem, splendidly played by Joshua McCord, is beautifully observed.

Simon Armstrong's rock solid malevolence as Mayella's father is frightening. Rhian Blythe's Mayella is excellent, particularly during her cross-examination when she perfectly balances the point of almost softening with her growing confidence as she gains strength from the man she knows best, her father.

Oliver Wilson hits exactly the right tone as Tom, the decent man falsely accused. There are other fine performances, particularly Richard Elfyn as a seemingly weak sheriff. But then everyone in the cast adds weight to this exceptional theatrical experience. Go, see, and be very moved indeed.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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