Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: Picnic At Hanging Rock

Photo: Bob Seary

On St Valentine’s Day 1900, a party of schoolgirls set out to picnic at Hanging Rock… some were never to return. That’s the synopsis of the classic Australian novel written by Joan Lindsay which was produced into a successful film and more recently as a television series.

The theatrical production, which was adapted by Tom Wright from the novel by Joan Lindsay, comes to Sydney after an initial sell-out season in Perth and Melbourne and a tour of London and Edinburgh.

The stage version has five talented actresses initially retelling then re-enacting the story, some of the actresses convincingly playing multiple roles. The evocative language and long poetic monologues compound with the atmospheric lighting, sound effects (and a touch of imagination from the audience) to create on stage, Hanging Rock, Appleyard College, and all the characters from this iconic story.

Audiences have been reminded that this is not the film. There are no pan pipes or flowing frocks. The execution is decisively different however, audiences who loved the movie should be pleasantly surprised as each scene from the film does remarkably unfold on stage.

Dark and loud at times with a simplistic bush stage setting, the haunting mystery is successfully maintained throughout. What happened to the teacher and three schoolgirls who disappeared on Hanging Rock? Thankfully, that won’t be divulged in the stage adaption. (MMo)

Until Dec 19. New Theatre. 542 King St, Newtown. $30-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au

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