Steppenwolf for Young Adults presents
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
In the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted
Written By Harper Lee
Dramatized by Christopher Sergel
Directed by Hallie Gordon
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Weekly matinees, Tuesday through Friday at 10am available for school groups only
Thru November 18th
Running Time: One hour and fifty minutes includes a fifteen minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
The depression era was simpler times for Americans. Kids played outside. Neighbors baked cakes. Turnips paid debt. Whites hated niggers. Steppenwolf for Young Adults presents TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a play based on the Pulitzer Prize winning American classic. Jean Louise Finch narrates a coming-of-age story for her brother and herself. In 1935, a black man is accused of raping a white woman. The incident divides the town in half. Atticus Finch, Jean Louise aka Scout’s father, is the lawyer assigned to represent the defendant. Atticus attempts to protect his children and his client from hate crimes. The Finch kids try to make sense out of a justice system that is NOT color blind. A gentle town becomes a war zone without easily distinguishable enemies. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary and timeless message, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD provides a sturdy pair of girl’s shoes to experience the good old bad days in America.
Harper Lee conjured up characters that are memorable childhood acquaintances. Caroline Heffernanis Scout, off-the-page superb with unintended fearless, moxie. The genuine chemistry between Heffernan and Bubba Weiler (Jem) is the tag-along, tattling, tender sister-brother terrific. Weiler’s solo delivery is a little more guide- for- the- perplexed angry than teenage confused. In the iconic shoes of Gregory Peck’s film version, Philip R. Smith (Atticus) delivers integrity with no-nonsense Southern charmed wisdom. Smith’s portrayal gives more glimpses of the emotions of a concerned father. Sandra Watson (Calpurnia) is hilarious on-stage and off-stage trying to keep the Finch kids under control. Claire Wellin (Mayella Ewell) is shivering sensational as the terrified girl, who did a horrible thing but to whom? Playing her father with anti-Atticus fineness, Larry Neumann, Jr. (Bob Ewell) is the deplorable, white trash victor. Carolyn Defrin (Jean Louise) guides the childhood flashback with a steady narration that interrupts without being disruptive. Under the direction of Hallie Gordon, Defrin and Heffernan share an initial powerful silhouette that begins the story. The entire cast fills Harper Lee’s shoes order with broken-in comfortable familiarity shined to perfection.
Scenic Designer Collette Pollard has constructed a basic two level set that doubles as the neighborhood and courtroom. Like the story, it’s simplistically quaint and surprisingly multi-dimensional. As part of its series to combine arts and education, Steppenwolf for Young Adults has produced a vital family show for everyone! TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD reminds Americans that even a super power has persecuted their own people. It reiterates that even the prettiest towns have ugly citizens. And most importantly, it emphasizes that within all of us lies hatred that could kill a mockingbird. Hey Boo!
Filed under: Steppenwolf Theatre
Tags: Bubba Weiler, Caroline Heffernan, Carolyn Defrin, Christopher Sergel, Claire Wellin, Collette Pollard, Hallie Gordon, Harper Lee, Jr., Larry Neumann, Philip R. Smith, Review "To Kill A Mockingbird", Sandra Watson, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Steppenwolf Theatre