Maycomb, Alabama, surely ranks among the most famous small town in literary America, as the setting of Harper Lee's immortal "To Kill a Mockingbird," recently performed by Washington-Lee High School.
This play presents a haunting look at how innocence can be destroyed by racial prejudice and stereotypes. The well-known story revolves around a small-town lawyer, Atticus Finch, who wrestles with the impact on his two children of his a bold decision to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, on trial for the rape of a white woman.
Portraying Atticus would be challenging for even the most experienced of actors, and Charlie Bright carries it off with poise, reserve, and old Southern gentility, especially in his poignant interaction with his children, Jem and Scout, ably played by Jayne Deichmeister and Jenny Cook.
Lauren Rayner and Katherine Schellman adeptly portray the Crawford sisters, a charming and funny pair of small-town gossips. As Judge Taylor, Johanna Harris is an assertive, southern Judge Judy whose sassy antics provide needed comedic relief during the dramatic trial. As Mayella Ewell, Emily Lodson displays an honest dedication to character that lends power to the drama.
The houses and (for the most part) the costumes convey the different characters, and lighting and sound cues clearly mark moments of significance. Though technical effects sometimes overshadow the actors, the cast always finds a way to work around problems.
From the first glimpse of the set through the play's harrowing conclusion, the cast and crew work together well, bringing to life a difficult play whose message was quite controversial when it was written.
<i>(The Critics and Awards Program — Cappies — provides reviews and awards for high school theater productions.)</i>