Saturday, January 16, 2010

To Kill A Mocking Bird, Profile Theatre, January 2010

Profile Theatre, 3430 SE Belmont Street, Portland (503)242-0080
Playwright: Horton Foote
Director: Pam Sterling

A staged reading, not a full production. Profile does readings every season that are more than a typical reading and less than a full production which they call staged readings. People are often in partial costume and move about the stage-area as they interact.  They carry their scripts and read some of their lines. They generally have short prep time for the presentation--so these are not fully polished but they are professional presentations.

Scout ...... Jill Westerby
Mr Cunningham / Hect Tate ...... Stephan Henry
Atticus Finch ..... Thom Bray
Calpurnia ..... Kimberly Howard
Jem ..... Andy Lee-Hillstrom
Dill / Cecil ..... Mathew Sa
Stephanie / Maybell / Mrs Dubose ..... Christy Drogosch
Boo Radley / Bob Ewell .....David Sikking
Tom Robinson / Dr. Reynolds ..... James Oscar

To Kill A Mockingbird  is one of America's masterpieces.  It acknowledges some of the worst of us and some of the best of our aspirations. Putting yourself in its path--in any form, be that in the theater, watching the film, reading the book is a recommended exercise and one that ought to be repeated from time to time.  Given that, we have an opportunity to be exposed one more time right here, and right now, in Portland. It is being offered by that most worthy of local theaters, Profile Theater.  So yes, everyone should go see this reading.

But our support of the theater and our reverence for this piece of literature begs the question of the production's merits.  Keeping in mind they had only 10 days to prepare we can say it was well done.  But it does have notable merits and flaws.  The casting was generally good. Thom Bray is a little too old to be playing the father of a 6 year old -- and it seemed he was trying to recreate Gregory Peck 's film version of the character. He might have done well to trust his own talent and to find the Atticus in himself.  Christy Drogosch could not have done a better job as Maybell--that damaged and sad young woman.  The three adult actors who played the children pulled it off--not an easy task.  Kimberly Howard seemed too young to play Calpurnia but she held her own. James Oscar made a believable Tom Robinson -- but his being the doctor was jarring given the racial issues of the story. And Sikking and Henry made themselves believable good-old-boys. Overall GRADE B


  1. Nice review. Have you actually read To Kill a Mockingbird? For one thing, it's Mayella Ewell, not Maybell. And Atticus was in his early fifties. It was quite clear throughout the story that he was older than the fathers of his childrens' friends. As when he said he couldn't play in the football game because he was too old, and that while he had once been the county sharpshooting champion, he hadn't held a gun in 20 or 30 years.

    I also thought that Mr. Bray did an excellent job of bringing his own interpretation to the role. The thing is, he was being faithful to the part, as was Mr. Peck, and some resemblance is inevitable.

    It was an excellent show and I only wish I'd seen this so I could have commented while it was still running. It deserves more credit than you give it. As well as a reviewer that gives an impression of at least having some familiarity with the play.

  2. Yikes--are the play and the players not praise adequately for you? Maybe you should re-read the review. I have high regard for Mr Bray's work and I don't think Peck's version is the ONLY way to play the role (as wonderful as his performance is) -- but I think Bray is capable of bringing something of his own to Atticus. That is praise for his work, not a put down. And for a reading, with short prep time, this was well done indeed -- but not perfect. (I don't know how old Mr Bray is but I'd guess he is well out of his 50s)
    Like I said, I'm happy to see this play anytime, anywhere because I think the story is so very important. I've read the BOOK by Harper Lee multiple times but I have not read the play. Sorry I got Mayella's name wrong--I admit it, I don't remember the name of every character in every play I've ever seen. (blame it on Geezer Memory) I generally just copy the cast list directly out of the playbill.
    In any case, we are happy to get your comments. We encourage differing opinions and lively discussion (that's healthy!) The only rule is civility in the process.