Ross Valley Players just opened their production of the stage play taken from the award-winning book To Kill a Mockingbird. This production stays compellingly true to the original script and realistically portrays the texture of Depression-era rural Alabama. The simple tranquility of a child’s life is disrupted by racism and murder. Some characters show nobility of spirit.
In a small town, Atticus Finch the lawyer dares to defend a wrongly accused black man. The narrator tells the story of the effect this has on him and his son Gem and young daughter Scout. Mary Ann Rodgers as the grown Scout narrator Jean Louise Finch moves seamlessly and invisibly through the cast as she lovingly recreates a tumultuous time.
On a set of three simple home facades, swinging screen doors everywhere, a culture of gentility is assumed, except for neighbor Mrs. Dubose who doesn’t like anybody. Anne Ripley finds great humor in Mrs. Dubose’s crotchetiness. Throughout it all, Steve Price as Atticus maintains a calm, soothing air of complete control, an anchor for the young Scout.
But Mayella Ewell loses her control on the witness stand as she perjures herself. Melissa Bailey as Mayella is able to project frantic tears as she concocts false memories.
On Buzz Night (November 12), a new tradition at Ross Valley Players, the young Scout was portrayed by Katrina Horsey with a good sense of devotion to and reverence for her dad.
Altogether, the cast of seventeen gave a well-coordinated ensemble performance, from friendly neighbors to angry townspeople. The dialect spoken by everyone was consistent and eerily accurate.
Set Designer David Apple keeps his three house fronts in place while he uses simple set pieces to stage other scenes downstage, from the jail to the courtroom. Costumes by Michael A. Berg reflect with verisimilitude a place and timeless style.
Scene changes and cues went seamlessly last Saturday. The show is fast paced, but not without moments of slow deliberation. Price has a fine sense of patience that is not martyred when he explains things to young Scout. He broadly projects his sense of reluctance as he carefully aims the rifle at the rabid dog, having the desired results.
In under two hours, the visual narrative is so absorbing it makes you more intensely interested in the dialogue and Jean Louise Finch’s occasional monologues. The characters are strongly identified and played with an appropriate complexity.
Ross Valley Players’ To Kill a Mockingbird continues through December 11 at The Barn Theatre in the Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Ross.
Tickets ($17.00 to $25.00) are available online at email@example.com or by phone at 415.456.9555 ext 3.