16 September 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird, Regents Open Air Theatre

Harper Lee's evocative telling of life in a small American town is stunning on the page; stirring turbulent emotions surrounding the racial prejudice in tight-knit communities during harsh financial times.

But how on earth do you go about re-reading a eponymous classic that you studied as a schoolkid? Do you try to dig out the notes, hack it alone with vague memories or hope you've forgotten everything and will discover the writing anew? How about sitting in Regent's Park open-air theatre on a crisp autumn evening, cocooned tightly in a coat and scarf?

Shoe props kindly donated by a puzzled husband.

Luckily, that's exactly where I found myself last week. I spoke recently with a friend about the danger of overusing superlatives, but it's impossible not to be drawn into the spell woven about the audience. Clever, clever choreography, odes directly to the text, engaging actors, a fantastically simple set - no wonder they have had rave reviews. Whilst we were there we noticed several school groups, learning viscerally rather than through ink and page; oh to have had that opportunity.
  
Through courage and compassion, lawyer Atticus Finch seeks the truth, and his feisty daughter, Scout - a young girl on the cusp of adulthood - brings new hope to a neighbourhood in turmoil.

Instead of throwing away the book and producing a movie-like setup of seamless changes and plot alterations, the New Shakespeare company begin the play immersively, drawing you deep into the storytelling - but I'm not going to tell you how.



The actors were wonderful, portraying the nuances of each scene with ease and humility - switching from local to American accents with ease, from storytelling to living the drama with each hop, skip and strummed guitar haunting us with soft lyricism. Atticus, and the three children (playing Scout, Jim and Dill) were especially haunting in their portrayal

The open air theatre creates an unusual larger world - the birds calling, the rustling of the trees, occasional wail of sirens and clever use of the audience as the jury during sentencing (not a spoiler by the way); but would work wonderfully in their national theatre tour if you missed out on tickets (they don't know who I am whatsoever - just Google them).

22 comments :

  1. How amazing is the open air theatre? Ex and I went to see "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" there a few years ago and it was truly brilliant!

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  2. I love that idea of the outside trickling its way into a play.

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  3. Wow, this sounds very good and your description was so evocative!

    Lots of love,

    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

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  4. I know they had multiple child actors (due to union laws on how much kids can work) but one set of the Jem/Scout pairing were real life brother and sister! x

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  5. I went to Sound of Music there which was good fun, I'm still jealous you got tickets to this!

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  6. I'd love to see that, great that it was outside. We were only talking about the book the other day!

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  7. It was wonderful - funny how classic stories seem to pop into our lives so often.

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  8. That sounds amazing! I'm desperate to see Midsummer Night's Dream there! We were very lucky :)

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  9. The kids were incredible!
    That is SO cool!

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  10. I have my fingers crossed to see it this coming summer - it looks incredible too!

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  11. I've only read the book a couple of years ago and loved it. I would have loved to see the play in an open theater.

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  12. We've been in Open Air Theatre in Poland and we absolutely love it :)

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  13. Loving the food and for some odd reason the thread just makes me smile, I think it's the bright colours.

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  14. Taylor Hearts Travel21 September 2014 at 20:54

    I love an open air theatre. It somehow adds to the excitement. Looks like you had a lovely rime.

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  15. We were chilly, but absolutely glued to watching the actors. Fabulous!

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  16. It adds another layer to the experience, doesn't it!

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  17. First of all, as a kiwi lover let me tell you how much I love the decoration of your blog! Especially the London kiwi Eye, it'd be nice to admire stunning landscapes from there, just imagine to be able to see any of these places http://lazypenguins.com/breathtaking-views-from-around-the-world/ from a kiwi wheel, hahaha!)
    Secondly, thanks for your post, I enjoyed reading your experience at an open-air theatre, that excitement of living the theatres they had in past epoques!

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