Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is the most reflective adaptation, with powerful performances that will stay with viewers long after it ends. Check out the details in my parents guide review.
To Kill A Mocking has come to St. Louis, playing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre from February 28 through March 12. The play is based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel, adapted by playwright Aaron Sorkin, who took the classic tale about Atticus Finch’s two children, Jem and Scout, and created a powerful drama about the deep roots of racism in the deep south in the 1930s. The talented cast includes Richard Thomas (Atticus Finch), an Emmy award winner for his role in The Waltons; Melanie Moore (Scout Finch); Justin Mark (Jem Finch); Yaegel T. Welch (Tom Robinson); and Jacqueline Williams (Calpurnia). Check out the details in my parents guide review.
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To Kill A Mockingbird Parents Guide
To Kill a Mockingbird is both a young girl’s coming-of-age story and a darker drama about the roots and consequences of racism and prejudice, probing how good and evil can coexist within a single community or individual.
To Kill A Mockingbird Age Rating Parents Guide
Let’s take a look at what parents need to know before letting their young children watch To Kill A Mockingbird.
Language: To Kill A Mockingbird contains some strong language, with profanity used. Stronger words include wh*re, d*mn, d*mmit, son of a b*tch, holy hell, g-d d*mn, and numerous uses of the N-word. Along with the harsh language, the play also includes dialogue that has a deep racist tone about the supremacy of white skin over black skin and even a remark about “Jew blood.” There is also a phrase that implies the use of the phrase “mother f*cker,” but the sentence is cut short, not finishing the F-word.
Mature Content: Other than the bad language mentioned above, the other big warning signs of adult material include violence. The show surrounds the trial of a black man accused of beating and raping a white woman, so there are discussions that revolve around rape, beatings, hangings, the electric chair, knives, and guns. While none of the violence is shown, characters discuss suicide, hanging other characters, stabbings, being shot with a gun and killed, and even tying up a character to a car and pulling him until he is “skinned alive.” There is a scene that includes the KKK, hooded characters that come to kill a black man, and a character being shot 17 times for trying to escape. There is also a young character who is neglected by his mother, even discussing being locked in his room when his mother went out “looking for a husband.” Characters are described as being drunk, and there is even a scene that includes the possible consumption of alcohol by a minor.
To Kill A Mockingbird excels due to its talented ensemble cast, which includes Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch. Thomas enters to a round of applause, which makes one wonder if it was less for him as a performer and more for the character itself. He exudes a southern gentility and a gentle demeanor that embody his character in the first act. As the story progresses, the audience watches a slow transformation of that calm charm into fury as he realizes racism will always prevail over facts and innocence in the Jim Crow-era South. This realization only adds to the poignant story due to Yaegel T. Welch’s portrayal of Tom Robinson, who emits a good-heartedness and kindness that make Finch’s fury believable and authentic, as well as connecting to the audience, making the tale even more impactful even if one knows the story already.
To Kill A Mockingbird is narrated by the three youngest characters, Scout (Melanie Moore), Jem (Justin Moore), and Dill Harris (Steven Lee Johnson), giving this heartbreaking and intense story a child-like look at such a difficult subject while adding a much-needed break with a bit of humor and silliness. Moore nails the tomboyish Scout, who is a bit quirky and strong-willed, alongside Johnson, who gives a strong performance as Jem Finch. However, it is Johnson’s performance as Dill that stands out among the trio with his amiable and innocent nature, which makes the biggest impact with the audience.
The sets in To Kill A Mockingbird are simple, regularly moving from a courtroom setting to the front porch of the Finch’s residence. This simplicity allows for the story and dialogue to become front and center of the play without distracting the audience with flashy pieces; a “fire curtain” hides the stage before each act. Perhaps the fire curtain is a nod to the 1930s, when asbestos-lined curtains were used on stage to hide the backstage from the audience. It could also be a reference to the house fire in the novel, when a divided town joins hands to rescue a neighbor from her burning home. Or it could possibly be pointing to the story’s ever-burning flame of racism that existed at the time and is still relevant today.
Even after 60 years since the novel was written, the story of To Kill A Mockingbird continues to be a controversial tale, even being removed by school boards from some classrooms for its use of racial epithets. While this script includes the use of the N-word over a dozen times and other racial vernacular, the inclusion is true to the story and the time period in which it occurs and doesn’t feel forced just for shock value’s sake. To kill a mockingbird means to destroy innocence, and while this story reflects this destruction by condemning an innocent man to his death because of the color of his skin, it is also a call to action that still rings true today. Many have even said that in today’s climate, it rings louder than it ever has, as we seem to be backsliding as a society on these issues. That can obviously be debated by those who lived through Jim Crow era America, but as Atticus Finch states, “We can’t go on like this, we know. Let’s hasten the change. Let’s begin with justice.“