Free Rain production of "To kill a mockingbird". David Kinyua plays Tom Robinson. Photo: Karleen Minney
Atticus Finch is regarded as one of the great heroes of American literature and cinema.
He's the principled small-town lawyer who defends an African-American man falsely accused of rape in Depression-era Alabama in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of To Kill A Mockingbird.
The character, famously brought to life on the screen by Hollywood legend Gregory Peck, tops the American Film Institute's list of all-time cinema heroes - beating the swashbuckling likes of Indiana Jones and James Bond.
Free Rain production of "To kill a mockingbird". Lawyer Atticus (Coli Boldra) ), congratulated by kids- Jem, ( Martin Hoggart), Scout (Maddison Smith Catlin) and Dill ( Ben Burgess) Photo: Karleen Minney
But actor Colin Boldra, who plays Finch in the Free Rain Theatre Company production of To Kill A Mockingbird opening in Canberra tonight, sees a different side to the hero.
Boldra said the widowed Finch was often held up as an idealised father with admirable qualities such as standing up for what he believes in and being fair.
But as a father himself, he thought Finch was ''not a perfect being'' - often absent and sometimes expecting too much of his children.
With two young daughters, Boldra said he only did one show a year and was conscious of not neglecting his girls.
Still, playing such a famous character was a ''great experience'', he said.
Directed by Liz Bradley, Christopher Sergel's stage adaptation of the novel also stars Maddison Smith-Catlin, 14, as Finch's daughter Scout and Martin Hoggart, 15, as his son, Jem.
Hoggart said that while the story's treatment of racism might seem a little dated, another theme - the children's loss of innocence - still had great impact.
''It's told from the perspective of Scout: throughout the course of the play she realises everything is not as black and white as she thought it was,'' Hoggart said.
Kenyan-born David Kinyua, 22, makes his Canberra stage debut as the accused man, Tom Robinson. A student at Australian National University, Kinyua said that, despite some of the harsh language directed at his character, Tom was ''a fun role to play''.
To Kill A Mockingbird is on at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, on October 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and November 1, 2, 3 at 8pm with a 5pm show on October 28 and 2pm shows on November 3 and 4. Tickets are $35 full, $30 concessions, $28 matinees and twilight shows. Bookings: 6275 2700.