GUTHRIE — Harper Lee's beloved novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” plays well on the Pollard Theatre stage. Christopher Sergel's dramatization uses Jean Louise Finch to narrate her childhood experiences as Scout, the irrepressible daughter of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch.
The action takes place during a controversial trial that has polarized the small Southern town of Maycomb, Ala., during the Depression. Gwendolyn Evans plays the narrator, while her younger self is portrayed by Alexandria Grable.
They look and play very naturally as each other and conquer beautifully the hesitancy some directors may have in using this version of the play. Director W. Jerome Stevenson incorporates the characters with great sensitivity.
Playing Atticus Finch is James A. Hughes, a familiar face to Pollard audiences in an unfamiliar role. Some viewers may quarrel with the choice to play Finch with an air of regret and martyrdom. Those who love this story may find that uncomfortable or disappointing.
Smaller roles are taken by David Fletcher-Hall as Bob Ewell and Emily Frances Brown as Mayella Ewell. Fletcher-Hall's interpretation beautifully illustrates the jealousy that accompanies prejudice and ignorance. Brown reveals the cost of that ignorance and isolation as she demonstrates the damage her father has done to his family.
Sergel's adaptation has some great roles for women. De'Vin Lewis is lovely as Calpurnia, while Beverly Caviness as Maudie Atkinson, Cory King as Stephanie Crawford and Jennifer Rosson as Mrs. Dubose, create the typical small-town power base that women often held with wit and sincerity. Tom Robinson, the defendant and a victim of racial discrimination, is beautifully played by Rory Littleton. The poignancy of his position is revealed in his demeanor as much as his delivery. As the Rev. Sykes, Ben Bates ministers to the needs of the black community and is wise as well as comforting.
Lane Fields plays the small-town Southern Sheriff Heck Tate as a man who brings a high moral standard to his position. Clayton Blair as Boo Radley is distinctive as well. Grable leads the other children in the production to great heights.
As Jem, Matt Maloy offers a performance that is sensitive and secure. Harry Simpson plays Dill, the young scamp visiting and longing for acceptance. Simpson has great timing, a skill not often revealed in such a young actor. Except for Simpson and Fletcher-Hall, the actors are occasionally difficult to understand due to a combination of dialect, delivery and low amplification.
— Elizabeth Hurd