Whether you believe that ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is a story based on truth, an old wives tale, or a complete piece of fiction, Matthew Lutton’s production of the 1987 book is a piece of art that must be seen.
The Joan Lindsay novel tells the story of school girls from Appleyard College in Victoria in 1990. They are given the opportunity to take a school trip on St Valentine’s Day, much to their surprise, due to a very strict headmistress. While on the trip to Hanging Rock, a group of the girls and one of their teachers disappear.
Delivering this chilling tale are school girls played by Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Arielle Gray, Amber McMahon, Elizabeth Nabben and Nikki Shiels. Each taking on a variety of roles throughout the performance, the performance was filled with numerous monologues, which was held up with elegant and descriptive prose.
Perth-born, Mattew Lutton uses darkness, movement and sound to create individuality for each scene with a bare and minimal set, and gave an extreme level of macabre to the performance. Known for his work having a darker side, this was mirrored with the lack of light throughout the performance. He created pockets of light rather than occasional shadows, and this mirrored the dark themes found throughout the entire play.
Something that stood out to me was how well the cast managed to change between characters without costume changes. Slight changes to their voices, their way they stood, the way they interacted on stage changed depending on who they were and totally drew me in.
‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is a must see performance, and it’s something you have to let wash over you and really pull you in. If you’re happy to leave your preconceived ideas at the door you will receive an immersive, intense and beautifully delivered piece of theatre.
Picnic At Hanging Rock is a co-production between Black Swan State Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre and runs at the Heath Ledger Theatre until Sunday April 17 2016.
Cast: Harriet Gordon-Anderson, Arielle Gray, Amber McMahon, Elizabeth Nabben and Nikki Shiels.
Director: Matthew Lutton
Set & Costume Designer: Zoë Atkinson, Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson, Composition: Ash Gibson Greig, Sound Designer: J. David Franzke
Duration: 90 minutes (no interval)
For further information please visit www.bsstc.com.au <http://www.bsstc.com.au/season-2016/>
Book @ ticketek.com.au or 1300 795 012 or Ticketek outlets; Groups 8+ 1300 364 001
Photo credit: Pia Johnson