The World Through the Eyes of Asperger's in First Stage's 'Mockingbird'
Childhood drama is brought to the stage with deeply engrossing emotion in First Stage’s production of Mockingbird. It’s a profoundly touching adaptation of Kathryn Erskine’s book about a girl with Asperger syndrome dealing with the loss of a brother. Scenic designer Brandon Kirkham and lighting designer Jesse Klug subtly and gently amplify and personify the mind of a staggeringly intelligent girl who has difficulty relating to the world. Director Marcella Kearns orchestrates the dramatic action with clever timing and sensitivity that maintains a delicate balance between sympathy and empathy for the humanity of the story.
Alex Salter is one of two young actors playing the lead role of Caitlin. She animates the character with a deep respect for what makes her uniquely heroic. It’s fascinating to see the world through the eyes of Caitlin as rendered by Salter. There’s a real willingness to portray a very human vulnerability. Salter has a breathtakingly valiant sense of right and wrong that serves the role well. Caitlin is also played by Emily Harris in an alternate cast.
Dan Katula has an earthbound tenderness about him in the role of Caitlin’s father. He’s dealing with the loss of his son and the challenges of trying to connect with a daughter who has great difficulty communicating emotion. Katula has done an amazing job of retroactively establishing very nuanced relations with both his character’s daughter and his late son (who never directly appears onstage). Marvette Knight lends great warmth to the stage as Caitlin’s counselor. Knight has admirable patience and empathy in the role. Elyse Edelman exhibits a comparable energy as Caitlin’s teacher Mrs. Johnson.
Through April 9 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts’ Todd Wehr Theater, 123 E. State St. For tickets visit firststage.org.