Theatre Review: Picnic at Hanging Rock

It’s only 85 minutes long, its visual style is deliberately austere, and its cast consists only of five young women dressed in contemporary school uniforms of the most traditional kind. Yet the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne’s stage version of Picnic At Hanging Rock – co-produced by Black Swan Theatre of Perth – begins the Lyceum’s spring season with an explosion of theatrical power as fierce as it is contemplative, and so original that no-one who sees it is likely to forget it.

There’s never any sense, here, that the whole story of Joan Lindsay’s great 1967 novel will be “acted out”. Instead, in Tom Wright’s adaptation and Matthew Lutton’s production, we see five schoolgirls who exist both now, and in 1900, and at any time between, standing on a deep blue stage – almost bare, but strangely angled – retelling this great Australian myth, the story of three girls and a schoolmistress who disappear completely during a picnic at the ancient aboriginal site of Hanging Rock, on Valentine’s Day 1900.

The cast of Wonderland the Musical. Picture: Contributed

Preview: Wonderland the Musical

When Frank Wildhorn’s plan to make an album of Wonderland foundered, he turned it into a hit show instead. Kelly Apter talks to the composer about the UK tour, which starts in Edinburgh this week, while former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters explains the appeal of playing the Queen of Hearts

Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery will be staged promenade-style at Edinburgh Zoo in April.

Edinburgh Zoo to host promenade theatre for the first time

It has already staged shows in the middle of Edinburgh Airport, the heart of a department store on Princes Street and a haunted underground street beneath the Royal Mile.

Edinburgh, Fife & Lothians 1
Leith Theatre has been mothballed for a number of years. Picture:  Colin Hattersley

Trainspotting author plots Leith’s return to the stage

THESE days, it’s one of Edinburgh most fashionable areas, with a sparkling historic waterfront full of bars and restaurants, and enough of its old industrial and dockland heritage still present to give the place some edge and character.

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Clarke Peters is best known for his role in the American crime drama series The Wire.

Wire star Clarke Peters wants to bring Nat King Cole show to Fringe

Clarke Peters, the American actor best known for his role his The Wire, wants to bring a one-man show about Nat King Cole to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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The 2016 Edinburgh International Festival opened up with the spectacular Deep Time event on the castle rock.

Edinburgh Festival in 70th birthday boost after cuts u-turn

The Scottish Government is to restore a controversial funding cut for Edinburgh’s festivals to coincide with their 70th anniversary this year.
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Cora Bissett PIC: Mihaela Bodlovic

Ones to watch in 2017 - director Cora Bissett

Cora Bissett’s stage version of The Room is one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of 2017. With that and a new tour of her hit Glasgow Girls, the director is on a roll

Still Game will be at the Glasgow Hydro in February

2017 Arts Preview - The Year Ahead in Theatre

Scotland’s theatre community should prepare for Twitter rows with the new resident of the White House in 2017, according to our theatre critic and resident mystic

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Leith Theatre was opened in 1932 and was a regular venue for the Edinburgh International Festival until the early 1980s. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Irvine Welsh to lead campaign to restore Leith Theatre

Irvine Welsh is to spearhead a campaign aimed at reviving a neglected arts venue nearly 30 years after its last show.

Theatre 15

Scot:Lands reviews - Nether:Land | High:Land | This:Land

New Year’s Day in Edinburgh has been improved significantly by the presence of the city’s cultural showcase-come-treasure hunt Scot:Lands, a visit to which is unlikely to be complete without a stop at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It’s a Royal Mile landmark anyway, and that rarest of things, a café which is still in business on the first day of January. This year, the ground floor was used as a ceilidh space -families took instruction from the Mairi Campbell Ceilidh Band, and tourist-friendliness combined with a fun outing for locals.

The dancers of Prime

Scot:lands reviews: Let’s Dance:Land | New Scots:Land | Orcadia:Land

Standing in the crowd, you could feel the desire start to grow. First it was a gentle pulse of knees, then the odd shoulder twitch or body sway – David Bowie’s Let’s Dance was playing at high volume and standing still was tantamount to torture. Up on stage, hip hop dancer Ashley Jack was poppin’ and lockin’ with vigour, her smile clearly visible behind the Aladdin Sane-style make-up. But she, and the organisers of Let’s Dance: Land, knew that we wanted a piece of the action – and we soon got it.

War in America will be staged at a temporary theatre at the Royal High School. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Banned play to be given world premiere at Royal High School

A play banned by an Edinburgh theatre is to finally see the light of day two decades later in a landmark building which was considered as a possible home for the Scottish Parliament.

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The band Randolphs Leap is joining Highland-based theatre company Right Lines for a musical. Picture: Euan Robertson

Stage set for Scotland’s first indie pop ‘jukebox musical’

Scotland’s first indie pop “jukebox musical” is set to take to the stage after the band Randolph’s Leap joined forces with a Highland theatre company for The Isle of Love – a show inspired by the magic of the Outer Hebrides.

The Night After Christmas
Left to Right Rosalind Sydney and Mary Gapinski The Night After Christmas.JPG

Theatre reviews: The Night After Christmas; Morgan & West: A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show


Dick McWhittington at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen PIC: Michal Wachucik / Abermedia

Theatre reviews: Dick Whittington | Dick McWhittington | Aladdin

It’s a high risk panto, in some ways: a London legend that does not adapt easily to a Scottish setting, and a story that many children may not know, unlike the Disney-familiar Aladdin and Cinderella.

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The Suppliant Women at the Royal Lyceum

Joyce McMillan on the Year in Theatre

The date was Saturday 6 February; and between parts two and three of the James Plays, on stage at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, a small, slight figure appeared in front of the curtain, smartly dressed in a black kilt. “I’m Laurie Sansom, artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, and director of The James Plays,” he said. And before he could go on to tell us how Andrew Rothney, playing James II, had suffered a serious leg injury during an onstage medieval football match during Part 2, a wave of cheers and applause swept up through the packed 1,700-seat theatre, as if this mighty production – about to set off on a tour which would take it to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the cities of England – marked a defining moment in the 10-year story of the NTS, which staged its first show in February 2006.

Cumbernauld Theatre Snow White

Theatre reviews: Aladdin/Aladdin/Snow White

One of the great roles of panto, in the age of globalised culture, is to celebrate the joys of local community life; and I doubt whether any panto in Scotland does it better than the annual Christmas knees-up at the Brunton in Musselburgh, a show so brim full of East Lothian identity, jokes and fun that there’s hardly time to notice the sad absence of the handmade panto backdrops of local scenes that once used to grace the stage – including the one featuring the distant outline of the now demolished Cockenzie power station.

Julia Amour is director of Festivals Edinburgh, the body overseeing 12 of the city's main events.

Edinburgh Festival leaders sound warning bells for the future

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Neil Murray and Graham McLaren outside the Abbey Theatre in Dublin PIC: Lensmen Photography

Joyce McMillan: former NTS duo unveil radical new season at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre

By any standards it’s been a long transition. It’s 17 months now since it was announced that the National Theatre of Scotland’s executive producer Neil Murray and associate director Graham McLaren would be leaving to become joint artistic directors of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland’s national theatre; and it’s been a time of upheaval for the company they left behind, with the sudden departure of NTS artistic director Laurie Sansom, and the appointment of Jackie Wylie as his replacement.

Cinderella at the King's Theatre in Glasgow

Theatre reviews: Cinderella | Hansel & Gretel | Dick McWhittington

In the foyer at the King’s ­Theatre in Glasgow, ­Gerard Kelly’s memorial bronze boots shine brightly this Christmas; and it’s good to report that the spirit of Kelly – the Glasgow panto’s greatest-ever daft ­laddie, until his death in 2010 – is alive and thriving on stage this year, in a good-looking and joyful version of ­Cinderella directed with memorable warmth by Morag Fullarton, who also wrote this year’s smash-hit A Play, A Pie And A Pint panto at Oran Mor. It’s not that this version of Cinderella from First Family Entertainment is exactly hand-crafted in Glasgow; the sets are standard-issue panto kitsch, and Eric Potts’s decent script has no real through-line of Glasgow references. Yet the show is presented with real sparkle on the King’s big stage; and it’s carried with terrific zest by the King’s fine new daft laddie Des Clarke, now in his fifth year in the role.

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