Tom Wright’s acclaimed adaption of Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic At Hanging Rock comes to Sydney, having previously played to sell-out seasons in Perth and Melbourne before heading off to Edinburgh and London.
The classic story of three private school girls and a teacher who went missing on St Valentine’s Day 1900 at Hanging Rock has mystified a generation of readers.
“The novel as written by Joan Lindsay is told in such a way that it seems that she has taken things from history. The characters are so real, her language is so beautiful that you have to think where did this come from? Is it indeed a real story? It’s this mystery that we all want to keep believing is true even though Lindsay has clearly stated that it’s fictional,” explained director, Sahn Millington.
One thing that audiences should be aware of is that this is not the movie. There are five actresses on stage, some playing multiple roles and there are no pan pipes or floaty frocks. “It’s a retelling of the mystery and then a re-enactment of the events that the mystery initiated. It’s a very non-naturalistic piece and the language is evocative. You can hear everything that’s happening in the bush and on the rock. The way Tom Wright has written it is definitely not in that romantic ethereal Peter Weir vein, it’s very much Joan Lindsay’s language.”
When asked whether fans of the novel, film or the recent television production would be transfixed by this adaption Millington paused momentarily. “I believe they will. I’m always a realist and I know that there are people who are traditionalists that may not enjoy it as much, but that’s been my challenge and something that I’m very particular about. They can have their own opinion but I want an audience that doesn’t feel like they’ve wasted their time so I believe we’ve created something that if it’s not what they think, they will at least go away knowing they’ve had an experience.”
This production has a young cast, a fresher adaption, and is told differently from the film. Millington hopes that this is something younger audiences will want to come along and watch but believes it’s accessible to all audiences.
“I think mature age people who are wrapped up in the film are planning to see it and it’s always been on the back of my mind not to alienate them.” (MMo)
Nov 17-Dec 19. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $30-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au