Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird – the play

on February 8, 2009

To prepare for an upcoming local audition, I recently read the play version of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Christopher Sergel. Having worked in a school that taught the novel, I feel I am familiar with it and have read it roughly 20 times. I was curious as to how the play would differ from the book, and/or be similar to the movie (1962 version starring Gregory Peck).

The play reads easily and seemed rather short to me (80 pages). The play is actually very similar to the movie in that it captures many of the same scenes and characters, while leaving out similar ones. Once again Scout and Jem are center stage, with Calpurnia their maid, Atticus their lawyer father, Miss Maudie, Miss Stephanie, the Ewells, the Radleys, Tom Robinson, and of course, the Truman Capote character of Dill.
Miss Maudie acts as narrator in the play, as opposed to Scout. The action moves quickly and is staged simply (for instance, the “mad dog” scene occurs with the dog being off in the wings and “seen” only by the actors). The message of the play stays the same, the courthouse scene is pivotal, and Boo Radley once again is the gentle recluse who saves the children.

Beyond the stage, I could imagine this play being used in class with readers for whom the original novel would be too challenging. It would be a great choice for working with adult literacy groups as well.
In my opinion, those truly seeking the essence of the novel should read the novel. And those who seek even more information on the novel’s characters and Harper Lee should read the fine book: “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” by Charles Shields.

I give this play 4 Stars — but I would give Miss Lee’s novel, of course, my coveted 5 Stars!!

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