Picnic during Hanging Rock examination – splendid and mysterious
January 22, 2017 - Picnic Time
When Joan Lindsay wrote Picnic during Hanging Rock in 1967, she combined a myth. A foreword speedy readers to trust that her story about schoolgirls disintegrating on a outing to a volcanic Australian landmark competence be formed on documentary evidence. It was not – it was novella – though a tract is so musical with tangible anxieties that people continue to consider it fact. Set on St Valentine’s Day, 1900, it conjures adult doubt and dissolving boundaries. A century of Victorian appropriateness about to give approach to a reduction corseted age. Girls, transfixed by romance, on a margin of apropos passionate beings. Nature about to erupt. Time in a trance. Fascination.
Tom Wright’s adaptation, for Australia’s Malthouse theatre and Black Swan State Theatre Company, hints during most of this. The importance is definitely opposite from Peter Weir’s swoony 1975 movie, with a girls dressed in rippable white muslin. Much some-more apparent here is a nation squirming underneath colonial shackles, and a array of narrators perplexing to square a story together.
Director Matthew Lutton does not put most things on stage: to start with, 5 girls in trim blazers and white hosiery explaining a movement in a pattern by Zoë Atkinson of a plain, boxy room overhung by a load of earth and twigs. He suggests more. J David Franzke’s sound pattern has keening cries, low-level crackles as if from bristling vegetation. A noble account opening breaks detached into scenes that peep between darkness: flickering like a selected movie, a figure runs opposite a entertainment in wounded underwear. Characters spin unstable, fractured. One browbeaten lass spends her time focussed over like a beetle. Cast members take several parts. Girls play adults. Pupils spin into their possess teachers. A immature lady becomes a seemly youth.
Wright’s instrumentation is tighten to Lindsay’s novel, mostly word-for-word faithful. That mostly works: Lindsay is a clear writer and not an over-writer. But some-more of what is enacted on entertainment could be left but comment. If we are told that these characters are “floating on a volcanic layer” we don’t also need to be educated that they are sleeping on “a sea of flame”.
Picnic during Hanging Rock promises some-more than it delivers. But afterwards a promises are really vast indeed. This bright, puzzling dusk is partial of David Greig’s initial deteriorate as artistic director of a Lyceum in Edinburgh. The sharp chronicler of Scottish entertainment Joyce McMillan has pronounced that a new story of a entertainment in Scotland is in vast partial a story of Greig, as executive and inclusive playwright. He is also during a centre of a future.
• At a Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until 28 January. Box office: 0131 248 4848.