University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
The Little Theatre
Until 20 Oct 2018

Review by Janice Bailey

It is 1900 in the young nation of Australia. Four students and their teacher from Appleyard College, a private girls’ school, set off for a picnic near Hanging Rock. All but one vanish. Joan Lindsay’s novel, “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, and the iconic film based on her novel created a mystery which still remains – is the story true? If it is – what happened to the girls?

The Theatre Guild’s production of Joan Lindsay’s book, adapted for the stage by Tom Wright, presents the ‘mystery’ through five girls playing various roles. Director Geoff Britain has assembled a cast of five extremely talented young women whose task is to recount the story as if they were there at the time. Ole Weibkin’s set is designed to create a sense of two places which the characters move between. Coupled with Richard Parkhill’s lighting design, the illusion of moving between spaces and locations is fluid and believable.

The five young women – Laura Antoniazzi as Elizabeth, Gabi Douglas as Arielle, Zanny Edhouse as Nikki, Zoe Mueller as Amber and Rhoda Sylvester as Harriet deliver impressive performances as they move between their different characters with precision.

From an audience perspective, this is a play heavy with dialogue, making it difficult at times to follow the twists and turns in the convoluted subplots. This makes the performances of each of the five girls even more extraordinary.

In spite of requiring intense concentration from the audience with no resolution to the ‘mystery’, this is an unusual and compelling theatrical experience.