Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird directed by Bartlett Sheer premiered on 13 December 2018 at Broadway's Shubert Theatre and became immediately a box office success - grossed over $1.5 million, breaking the record for box office grosses for a non-musical play in a theatre owned by The Shubert Organization.
Set in Alabama in 1930, follows a story of a white lawyer who is defending a black man falsely accused to rape a white young woman. In Aaron Sorkin's adaptation, we get to know the story from the lawyer's young daughter's and his friend's perspectives.
London's West End had to wait years to witness this adaptation on stage - in 2019 it was announced that the production will be transferred to Gielgud Theatre in May 2020, but it was postponed due to COVID.
The show finally opened in March 2022 with Rafe Spall as Atticus Finch, taken over by Richard Coyle from August to November. 12 members of the original cast were taking their final bow on 19 November alongside Coyle, and we got to see the new cast led by Matthew Modine as Atticus Finch.
We get to know the story retrospectively as Atticus Finch's daughter, Scout (Anna Munden) is trying to understand the events that happened after the trial of Tom Robinson (Jude Owusu). It definitely gives a story a fresh twist, and the attempt for educational purposes is recognisable: the three children step in and out of the events, breaking down the fourth wall, to help the audience process what they just saw.
Anna Munden was previously understudied Scout before she was taking over full-time. Sam Mitchell makes his professional debut as Scout's older brother, Jem Finch, and Ellis Hellsworth as their friend, Dill made a really good start to put his signature on the character.
Matthew Modine's Atticus is a humble, loveable man, with an exceptional sense of humour - especially towards the children. No doubt he is going to make a remarkable Atticus Finch in the foreseeable future, as soon as he makes himself comfortable in this role: for now, it feels like he is still tailoring it.
Jude Owusu was part of the original cast as Tom Robinson and it really shows: he is calm and confident from start to end and he helps to navigate the new cast even with his presence. His courtroom scenes are the most intensive moments during the show due to his immaculate pacing alongside David Sturzaker who is playing Horace Gilmore- the lawyer of his accuser.
Jason Hughes as Bob Ewell is a perfect example of how racism and hate come from the lack of education.
Overall, the new cast is still in the process of growing together and being on the same page. The pacing of the dialogues and conversations was definitely a bit off, and their struggle with matching each other's energies was visible from an audience viewpoint too.
There are a lot of triggers in this story and the theatre is warning us on their website and when we enter the building as well: racially explicit language, reference to sexual violence, brief gunfire but there are a few they don't mention, such as reference to suicide or child neglect.
The show is currently booking until the 1st of April and you can find tickets for £18 here.
Review: Rebeka M Photo: Marc Brenner