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Bracknell Evening Review

MarkPicnic at Hanging Rock - The Musical
Royal Berkshire Academy
Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell
Matinee performance - Saturday, 25th July 2009

Watching Brian's musical version of Picnic at Hanging Rock does not happen too often. Sue, my partner, and I was in Bracknell to see the final show in a short four day, five show run. The last time we saw it was in Norwich in November 2008 and I was looking forward to seeing it again, especially as the Wilde Theatre in Bracknell is in such a lovely location. South Hill Park is really nice, well worth a visit.

Sue and I also used the opportunity to meet up with Ritchie from BilboMusic and her sister Barbarie. They had just seen the Saturday matinee show, whilst we were waiting to see the evening's performance. It was a nice sunny day with plenty of people milling around, so I was confused to find the bar open but not selling any food until later. This was confusing as there was not only two performances of Picnic but also a performance of Othello in the small open-air theatre in the grounds. So lots of people, plenty of opportunity.

The first thing I really noticed when I walked into the auditorium was that there was no Watchers on stage. This was something that had been noticeable at other performances. However, as the lights dimmed the Watchers gradually filled the stage. The show had now started.

TicketThe set was dominated by the rock, which I guess it would it be if set in the real location. It was just too symetrical for my liking, looking more like an Aztec pyramid rather than a natural geological formation. But nor did the original stage production, which used a series of wooden platforms.

The dance sections were fluid and well performed, especially the Watchers. The singing, however, was another matter. In the smaller group songs the music drowned out the vocals and I was left wondering why the performers did not raise their voices more. In the individual pieces there was some strong, well sung efforts, Kayleigh Ramchand who played Sara Waybourne and Ailsa Hutchison who played Miranda (during Sara's dream sequence) stood out for me. Other individual performances probably needed more voice coaching that time allowed, but at least they made the effort and I applaud them for that. However, when the whole cast sang the finale song "Dreamtime" this made up for any minor abhorations previously made.

I still miss the song "Those Foolish Girls" song that was performed in the original but was replaced in subsequent shows by "The Hanging Rock Calls" and by another unknown track in this performance. For me the song linked the searchers and townsfolk together just after the girls had gone missing.

For me there was good directorial touches, the use of a long blue piece of cloth as the river that the school children jump over whilst at the picnic and Albert used to wash the glasses was inspired. When the soon to be missing girls were sleeping, the watchers closely associated themselves with three of the four girls highlighting which ones would disappear.

Overall the show was a good one. It's just a shame that there wasn't more people there to see it as I think the performers would have got a bigger buzz for it.

Review by Mark Hughes


Morley Enterprises

Page Last Updated: 4th March 2010

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