Posts Tagged ‘Hattie Ladbury’

Once the perfect setting for Shakespeare, then a wonderful home for musicals, then reinvented for 20th century drama, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park now feels absolutely the right pace for storytelling. This adaptation of Harper Lee’s 60’s classic American novel (and the only thing she ever wrote!) is completely at home.

The actors start reading it from the audience, and continue doing so between scenes throughout the play. The simple staging starts with the town being chalked onto the stage floor. The props are on the sides of the stage, where the actors wait their turn. The only thing on stage for the duration is a tree. It’s all so very simple and so very perfect for storytelling as it draws you in and never lets you go. The charm and innocence of the children is contrasted with the hate of the white racists as the story of misjustice in small town America is played out. Timothy Sheader’s production is enthralling and deeply moving.

I’m not entirely sure which of the three groups of three children performed, but they were sensational. Robert Sean Leonard had great presence as Atticus; father, lawyer and liberal. Both Ritchie Campbell as the accused Tom and Hattie Ladbury as his alleged victim Maudie were hugely impressive. In fact, it’s a bit invidious naming actors, as there isn’t a fault in the casting.

On a clear, dry evening there’s nowhere better than the Open Air Theatre and on this occasion, apart from a tantalising short dusting of a delicate spray (as if to discourage us from becoming complacent), it spun its magic spell yet again and reinvented itself for yet another genre.

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