Stray Cats Theatre Company present Picnic at Hanging Rock adaptation at MPAC

PICNIC: Rhiannon Francis, Dana Brennan and Teaghan Lowry. Photo: Gemma Little.
PICNIC: Rhiannon Francis, Dana Brennan and Teaghan Lowry. Photo: Gemma Little.

For the final week of July, MPAC's Fishtrap theatre was transformed into a summer's day in country Victoria in the year 1900, to tell the eerie tale of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Based on Joan Lindsay's bestselling novel, the Picnic at Hanging Rock stage production follows the story of a Valentine's day outing gone wrong for the girls of Appleyard College - which ends with the unexplained disappearance of three seniors and a mathematics teacher - and the vicious aftermath that ensues.

Stray Cats Theatre Company, who have taken on many-a-mysterious project, including The Crucible in 2018, were an ideal match to unfurl the creepy tale at Hanging Rock.

The evening performance on July 30 was a full house, with audiences filling the arts centre, many discussing their experiences of reading the book or watching the 1975 film adaptation.

Upon entering the theatre, the audience was greeted with a stunning set piece by director Karen Francis and Bronwyn White.

The titular rock looks every bit as real as outback Australia, with native tree branches and paint which masterfully emulates each rocky crevice - and there are steps which allow cast members to move freely up and down.

The performance itself was bold, impactful and unique - with the ensemble students of Appleyard College flitting between acting like sweet adolescents and a pack of wolves.

Elusive characters Miranda and Marion were played beautifully by Teaghan Lowry and Dana Brennan alongside a brilliant Georgia Turner as Ms McCraw - all three actors added an extra dimension to characters who only really spoke in act one.

Standout performances came from Rhiannon Francis, who played the enigma of heiress Irma Leopold with vulnerability and a hint of venom, Ava Paschkewitz, who played the tortured Sarah with believability and nuance far beyond her years and Ella Thompson, who gave the character of Edith a balance of youthful annoyance and fear.

CAST: The Staff and Students of Appleyard College. Photo: Kristie Hennessy.

CAST: The Staff and Students of Appleyard College. Photo: Kristie Hennessy.

Also a highlight was the brotherhood between Michael and Albert, played by Braedan Geuer and Alex White, who portrayed a deep connection and bond.

The audience was left puzzled, thrilled and perplexed by the multi-faceted ending, and it was a show surely to be talked about on the car ride home.

Stray Cats Theatre Company's Picnic at Hanging Rock was a spooky triumph and treat for Mandurah audiences.