The names Jem and Scout were present in my life from a young age: two family pets in the form of cats, one jet black, and the other tabby.
Hence my affections towards these two characters were highly developed before even holding a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. But it wasn’t until I read the mesmerising story by Harper Lee that I understood why my parents felt the desire to so early on introduce a truly inspirational tale to a new generation.
Last summer, my entire family and I, ranging from ages 18 to 54, ventured down to Regent’s Park to watch Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Open Air Theatre. By this time, each one of us had read the book and each deeply fallen in love with it. Needless to say, our anticipation, excitement and expectations were high.
Having taken our seats and admired the staging we eagerly awaited the start, which took us by surprise when a loud voice read the ever so familiar first lines of the story from within the audience behind us. A few sentences later, a number of other camouflaged cast members had presented themselves, each holding a different edition of the book, when a young lady who was sat next to my brother stood up onto her chair and continued the story from her own copy.
Of course, we had come to hear a story, but to be invited as an audience member to use our imagination from the start, as if being read to as a child, was an absolute delight. As the performance continued on stage, it was clear that the set and costumes were not wholly necessary; one could simply envision the streets of Maycomb, Alabama as clearly as the first time you read the book.
That being said, the show was a visual treat and the acting was wonderful. Scout was as stubborn and boisterous as ever, Atticus; honest and honourable, Tom Robinson; heart-wrenchingly innocent. To say that each and every one of our party had tears in their eyes at the end is a testament to the brilliance of the show.
With the announcement that a sequel, in the name of Go Set a Watchman, is due for release later this year (apparently Lee’s original story), there’s no better time to see this spectacular production. I implore you to use this opportunity to take a page out of my parent’s book and introduce a new generation to a tale of which the message and morals are as relevant now as in the year it is set. This is simply the best environment for such a story to unfold right in front of your eyes.
You can see To Kill a Mockingbird in its new home at the Barbican Theatre from Wednesday 24 June until Saturday 25 July 2015. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.co.uk.