Whether it’s a classic musical or a straight play, Bartlett Sher has become the go-to director for very satisfying storytelling – This is the man who made the Oslo peace process as hot as a pot of steam in a London drama in 2017.The pair worked together to create the stage version of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel to kill a robinfinally coming to Broadway’s Gielgud, is as fun as it is ambitious.
Sorkin admits candidly that he didn’t wrap Lee’s novel in bubble wrap to repurpose it for the era of Trump politics and Black Lives Matter. (His characters consistently use the n-word, and many producers may have decided to change this true style.) Sorkin’s attorney, Atticus Finch, is not the noble Gregory Pike of the 1962 film, although linen Suits and glasses are still there. Rafe Spall manages to make him both ridiculously angry and knowledgeable, very indulgent to his two motherless children and their new friend Dill, while overly fond of putting his intelligence, especially to his client Tom Robinson, An innocent black man accused of raping a young white woman in a small Alabama town in 1934. He’s heroic, but his flaws are important.
We Might Have Expected Oscar-Winning Author Sorkin Social network and some good people, Make his drama a grand courtroom scene, but he resists the temptation. Instead, the action turns into Atticus’ children, teenage Jem (Harry Redding) and six-year-old Scooter (Gwyneth Keeworth), with Dill (a The very strange David Morster) strayed together all summer. Through the action as a chorus, narration and commentary at the same time. Their innocence and innate innocence allow them to challenge the racism on their doorstep and point out its grotesqueness.
That leaves us largely in the hands of Keyworth, the 31-year-old actress who bravely takes on the role of Scout, a very bright kid with a highly developed BS nose. Did Bob Ewell, the father of the alleged rape victim, really suffer the consequences, she wondered? We’ll have to wait until the end of the game to know if he does. Keyworth became a respectable choir, a little fighter in overalls, lighting up the stage (even though her accent tends to slide here and there: it’s one of the hardest American accents to conquer, and it’s a big one. Most actors stumble upon it at some point, which is an understandable point of view).
Miriam Buether’s set design is a key role in stitching the action together. Using a large warehouse as her own in-theatre, through wonderfully unobtrusive choreography, she slides into the landscape from all sides, moving us seamlessly from the front porch of the Finches to the courtroom and Maycomb greenery Shady streets and back again.A lady organist and a guitarist outside the picture American Gothic Located on each side of the stage, accompanying music is provided, with a little hymn. Scout pointed out that the courtroom was her father’s “church,” which is fitting.
It’s impossible not to be captivated by this nimble drama, which provides plenty of laughs to lighten the gloom of the reality of the Great Depression that followed. The casting works well and the mechanics of the piece are flawless. Then why am I uneasy?
Sorkin’s off-piste is interesting. Lawsuit from Harper Lee Estate prevents him from portraying Atticus as an alcoholic, but he has another way of humanizing him by creeping into other people with his cherished impartiality skin to understand them, on trial with Tom Robinson. To help him, Sorkin recruits Calpurnia, the Finches’ black maid, who can now throw some of Sorkin’s best barbs at her employer. “I believe in respect,” he told Carbonia. “It doesn’t matter who you’re disrespecting who you do,” she shot back. Pamela Nomvete steers the character away from stereotypes, but Calpurnia’s enhanced character makes you especially aware that she’s still the only black voice, like it’s in the works.
For me, this leads to the core problem of this business. Sorkin reframes the actual statements of Trump supporters as conversations with his obvious bad guy, Bob Ewell, whose unbridled racism makes for predictably chilling listening. As audiences knew from the first minutes of the play, Ewell lived happily ever after. But his death was carried out by Atticus, Judge Taylor (Jim Norton) and the Sheriff (Tom Mannion) outside the law as a form of natural justice. All of these key figures are white, so their actions will inevitably be seen as another form of “white justice.”
Did their status make their decision superior to that of the paranoid all-white jury in the Robinson trial? Do we applaud Atticus and his colleagues for being “right” here? Yes, obviously, but it still had a whiff of white privilege that Sorkin didn’t mention. Presumably he knew his audience and assumed they would want to win by any means necessary. But I hope he does better on this crucial issue.
In the end, the entire cast came together to sing the hymn “Joy Cometh in the Morning,” and Atticus sang the line “Darkness will give up the fight.” The play has become a clarion call, and as Scooter ends her wrap-up by urging “all up,” the theater has become a courtroom and our church.