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When it was announced To Kill A Mockingbird was coming to the Mayflower theatre, OntheScene jumped on the opportunity to witness the Harper Lee novel come to life. We sent an avid reader of the book along to see the show as well as a student who hadn’t read the book to get the shows full impact.

As I sat in the highly impressive Mayflower theatre, I could not wait for the play to begin, Id heard so much about To Kill a Mocking Bird, mainly from Maria as we waited for the show to start. The theatre was filled with an array of faces varying in ages and ethnicities. The warm buzz from the anticipation of the audience could be felt in the air – it was going to be great play, I could just tell.

The lights dimmed and out walked the cast, all holding a copy of the celebrated novel. Each copy was a different addition, illustrating the enormous popularity of Harper Lee’s work. As the cast read extracts of the novel, the story came to life.

The audience were transfixed from the moment Scout entered centre stage. Scout was played be Ava Potter, who made her professional theatre debut during the performance. The young actress was absolutely flawless in her portrayal of the rough and ready tomboy. Although all of the young actors did an incredible job, Scout’s performance shone through.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee,                  , Writer - Harper Lee, Director - Timothy Sheador, Designer - Jon Bausor, Regent Park Open Air Theatre, 2014, Credit: Johan Persson - www.perssonphotography.com /

Because I had never read To Kill a Mocking Bird it took me a little while to get grips with the storyline, although it was still highly enjoyable. The audience were taken on an emotional roller coaster as they followed the adventures of Scout, Dill and Jem. The soft sound of the rustic guitar transitioned the audience from the Southampton theatre set into the Deep South.

As I sat in my cosy seat I felt like a child who was being read a bedtime story, it was a welcomed break from what has been a busy week. As I got deeper into the storyline, my eyes and ears allowed my imagination to run wild. The set chalk drawings were no longer there, they were large picket-fenced houses and wide dusty streets.

By the end of the first half (approximately one hour), the bathroom was filled with excitable women all expressing their love for Harper Lee’s work. The enthusiasm was infectious as everyone waited for what was to come.

But as the second half unveiled and the humour was sparse, we were thrown into the deeper issues of social disparity. This left the audience on the edge of their seats, tissues at the ready. The court scene tugged my heart-strings.

The play has gained its popularity for its unique perspective on race and discrimination. The innocence and optimism of a child give the story great depth and a raw legitimacy.

Zackary Momoh (Tom Robinson). Photo Johan Persson

Sadly these issues of inequality still have relevance in today’s society with the recent shootings in Ferguson. It seems we can still learn a lot from stories like To Kill a Mocking Bird.

I remember reading the book to my son when he was at school, but I never found out how it ended. So when I saw it was coming to Southampton I was desperate to see it. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed, It was amazing.” – Brenda, Southampton, 44

“The guitar was an act of genius. It really transformed the show.” Phillip, Southampton, 50

“We are about to study it at (Wildern Secondary) school. So my stepdad brought me and my friend tickets. It’s amazing.” – Jack, Southampton, 14

Read Marie Attfield’s review here.

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