The staging of the performance is quite bare, with just odd shaped dark walls and a few props, but I think this works well as the focus is on the characters and the dialogue. The time and place is portrayed to the audience through words illuminated on a screen between each scene. The entire cast is made up of just five girls, who take on different roles throughout the performance. I thought Elizabeth Nabben as the School's Headmistress Miss Appleyard was superb, and I really liked her speeches about trying to make the girls 'civilised' in an environment as apparently 'uncivilised' as Australia in the 1900s. There were a lot of references to how wild Australia was seen as, and some of these comments provided some comedic moments to break up the eerie mood.
For those of you that know the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock, you will know that it has a spine tingling, skin crawling eeriness to it, and I'm happy to say the play has captured this perfectly. I don't want to reveal too much, but there was one moment where I was petrified, but then it was gone in a flash and I was questioning whether I'd just seen it or whether it hadn't happened at all- which I think is how the audience is supposed to feel.
The acting in this performance was some of the best theatre performances that I have seen. The actresses are to be commended on how well they played their roles, and the staging fits with it perfectly. The play runs at the Royal Lyceum Theatre until the 28th of January and this is its only stop in the UK, so make sure you see it. As an Australian, I may be a little biased in this view, but this play is a perfect reminder of the immense talent that Australia has just waiting to be given a world stage. I loved it.
WHAT: Picnic at Hanging Rock
WHERE: Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
WHEN: Until 28th of January