Megan Massie notes, "I've done a lot of victim roles in the past. Mayella's a victim, too – but she's not innocent. And she's got such a past, I grew up in a wonderful, loving family, so it was such a challenge" playing Mayella, who may or may not have been raped, but who is certainly a victim of some form or another of family abuse. Notes Thomsen, who plays her father, "It's always fun playing the villain, but in this it's also tiring. Here I get to unleash the portion of myself that's unfit for polite society. Ewell unleashes some powerful emotions."
Thomas Weaver, scenic coordinator and technical director, has designed an extremely well-thought-out set for this production, redolent of heat, humidity, and the financial woes of 1930's Alabama. Its use of multiple levels to create streets, courtroom balconies, and the like is particularly sound, especially for the limited stage space available.
Having read the book or seen the film is no prerequisite for enjoying the play, which stands quite well on its own. If anything, recollections of the movie, now enjoying its 50th anniversary re-release, may get in the way, as this production of the play is based upon the book. All three versions of the well-known story deserve their own consideration. It's well worth spending the time to consider this particular one, if you have the chance.
At Harrisburg Shakespeare Company through November 19. For tickets, call Gamut at 717-238-4111 or visit www.gamutplays.org.
Graphic credit: Gamut Plays