'To Kill a Mockingbird' 

When attorney Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman, he has little chance of winning in Depression-era Alabama, but he does the right thing, if only to teach his children what "right" is. Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Mockingbird focuses the matter of racism almost entirely on how it affects whites. A white lawyer stands up to a mob; his daughter's eyes are opened to the cruelest inequities of life. Christopher Sergel's script sweetly captures white folksy wisdoms and childhood queries, but gives blacks (including the defendant) only minor roles. Adopting a childlike certitude, contrasts are sharp. Atticus (Mark Goetzinger) is perfectly good, while the drunk (Robert K. Johansen) who frames an innocent man is perfectly bad. They captivate us in the heated trial scene, but minor characters mostly mumble rather than illuminate the wide-ranging guilt that lies between good and bad. Director Priscilla Lindsay succeeds in eliciting excellent child performances, the heart of the play: Tessa Buzzetti as Scout, the daughter who plays like a boy; Quentin Toetz as the brother who won't be shooed away from grown-up trouble; and Joseph J. Mervis as the friend who appears when friendship is badly needed. Under the sun-dappled lighting of Robert A. Shakespeare, we are transfixed by how perfect innocence shines through life's, and the play's, imperfection. Through Feb. 21; 317-635-5252.

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