By Edith McCauley
Currently playing at Pec Playhouse in Pecatonica, Ill., To Kill a Mockingbird, the excellent adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic story of the South in the 1930s, tells of the values that so affect its people. This production is one of the best seen here in the history of the theater. As Lee’s only published work, it has remained a bestseller for generations.
This adaptation is the only one given approval by the author. Jessica Barkdoll as the adult Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, narrates beautifully. Her insight into the story gives the audience every detail needed to understanding the play. Her father, Patrick Barkdoll, is Atticus Finch, a small-town attorney defending Tom Robinson (Robert Meeks), wrongfully accused of an attack on a local young woman. Patrick Barkdoll plays Atticus with complete authenticity, revealing in every scene his values and determination to better his community.
The young people playing his children and their friend are marvelous. Kaylee Moore is Scout, and her realistic portrayal is amazing. As her older brother, Jem (Casey Moncue) represents the stable influence in their lives. Puzzled by his father’s seeming disinterest in his activities, he learns Atticus’ values sustain them all.
The extensive cast includes John Jurkovic (a childhood friend spending the summer with his aunt in Maycomb). All three young people perform with complete professionalism. This is certainly a family show. Beth Martin plays Miss Stephanie Crawford, the cranky neighbor of the Finches and her real-life daughter, Emilye, a lonely girl seeking the friendship of anyone who passes. Glen Wiegert and his wife Laura represent another family. Laura plays Atticus’ housekeeper, Calpurnia, and is also stage manager. Glen, having appeared in many productions at Pec, is Bob Ewell, the racist intent on seeing Tom Robinson convicted.
As the second act opens, the neighborhood has become the courtroom. Ron Meyer is Judge Taylor occupying the judge’s bench. Ken Dull is the prosecuting attorney, and the entire cast sits in the balcony watching the trial.
The set is exceptionally well done. Every member of the company is involved in Arnie Ames’ fine design. The first act reveals the simple home occupied by the Finches and their neighbors and the mysterious home of Boo Radley, who appears briefly in the final scenes.
Always one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird comes to the stage as I remembered it. Playing through July 1, this is a must-see production. For further ticket information, call (815) 239-1210 or go online at www.pecplayhouse.org.
From the June 20-26, 2012, issue