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It is a story that has stood the test of time – a black man is accused of raping a white woman and a backwater town erupts with suspicion and resentment. Harper Lee’s tale of racial prejudice set in the depression-hit Deep South resonates now as much as it did when first penned in 1960.

It is a classic, a standard A Level text and so it is fitting Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation should open with a series of readings from the book. While we listen to these narrators, each with their distinct rhythm and pattern of speech, members of the cast draw an outline of a provincial town street out in chalk along the floor. Having delivered their passages, the narrators line up on chairs either side of the stage as Phil King (bassist with The Jesus And Mary Chain and Fallen Leaves) strums country guitar.

Already the audience feels part of this world where myths are shared and rumours laid bare. After the inverval the pace quickens as the court case is held, and reaches its bitter denouement.

It is a study of the effects of dehumanising inequality, but ultimately at its heart, the story marks the moment when a child learns to tell the difference between right and wrong. Implied within that of course is the need for a parent to set clear boundaries. Robert Sean Leonard makes for a finely balanced Atticus (I didn’t even think of Gregory Peck once) but it was last Thursday’s young cast that gave the most exemplary performances, particularly Ava Potter as the spirited Scout. According to programme notes it is her professional debut, which makes the heartfelt applause and standing ovation on the night all the more richly deserved.

To Kill A Mockingbird runs until July 25 at Barbican. Details: www.barbican.org.uk