5 December 2022
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Gielgud Theatre) Review Redux
After seeing both the original Broadway production with Jeff Daniels and the London transfer with Rafe Spall, I thought that was it for me and this show. But, after Matthew Modine was announced as the new Atticus, it seemed like a good idea to see the show again so I could check out what he’s like on stage.
The production gained 20 minutes in running time compared to when it started. It’s difficult to say why or where, but the overall pace does seem to be a fair bit slower (both in terms of the speed at which everyone speaks and the overall action vibe). Modine cuts a competent lawyer figure, but he is certainly more dispassionate than Daniels was and perhaps a bit less so than Spall too. Looking at his take on Atticus without comparisons to previous casts, it’s a strong and measured performance. Although his demeanour doesn’t change much visibly, he is serious in the courtroom yet playful with his kids. His character oozes warmth, which makes the audience invested in him and his success. On the flip side, it also makes Atticus a bit blah, like he’s just going with the flow (of his beliefs, not the town’s majority mentality, obviously).
It’s a strong Atticus performance from Modine, but the rest felt more of a letdown.
As I mentioned in the first London cast review, Patrick O’Kane as Bob Ewell was absolutely terrifying, which worked really well. He has been replaced by Jason Hughes who plays Bob as more of a drunken hick. He is angry and, therefore, dangerous, but he is hardly menacing. Between the slurred speech and the limp, he reminded me of Edgar from “Men in Black”. Ignorant and stupid does not a baddie make, so Hughes’ performance felt weak compared to O’Kane’s.
Cecilia Noble as Calpurnia was far more subtle than Pamela Nomvete (from the Spall cast), which I did like. However, the clapping and cheering after almost every one of her lines did get on my nerves pretty quickly. My previous “Mockingbird” review(s) thoroughly covered the whole backstory of the changes Sorkin made to this character. I get what he is trying to accomplish, but the whole “you go girl” reception just doesn’t jive with the tone of a dramatic production for me. I reckon Noble’s performance would’ve shown more if the audience just let it stand on its own.
Anna Munden, Sam Mitchell, and Ellis Howard as Scout, Jem, and Dill, respectively, don’t have as much chemistry as the other two casts I saw. Howard is the strongest of the lot, but hopefully this trio will get stronger as the run continues.
Cheapskate enjoyment value: £5.