Friday, 25 June 2021

Compelling and mysterious tale is played with excellence

THE Henley College drama department brought their year to a close last week with this production of the Australian thriller. Telling the story of the disappearance of two Australian school girls in 1900, the story is well-known to many having already been the basis for a best-selling novel and film.

Staged with a minimal of set and relying instead on light and sound, this atmospheric production seamlessly jumped between its two central locations of Appleyard School for Girls and the mysterious Hanging Rock to keep its audience enthralled throughout its short 70-minute running time.

Were the girls murdered, did something supernatural occur deep in the heart of the Australian outback or did they simply run away? Unwilling to reveal what happened on that fateful day, some would argue that the appeal of the story lies in its ambiguity, but personally I’d have liked an answer.

James Fawcett as young aristocrat Michael Fitzhubert fitted the bill as a prime suspect. Having arrived from England three weeks earlier and under the seemingly knowing watch of his aunt, there was something almost schizophrenic about Fawcett’s performance.

At times charming and polite, at others manipulative and deceitful, one could certainly imagine him cajoling his less educated manservant Albert, played by Cai Matthews, into the abduction of the girls.

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