Vis a Vis, Picnic

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

In a picnic area at dusk, a woman emerges from an orange tent wearing a mudpack with cucumber eyes and lipstick. Upstage is a forest of giant green tubes, reminiscent of early Dr Who, looking both sinister and ironic. Her husband is Mr Clean. Around them the detailed landscape is animated with wit and ingenuity. A figure in black leather intrudes upon their complacency, falling across the table to reveal a large knife embedded in his back.

From this point on, they crank up the dramatic tension with a relentless barrage of black humour and graphic violence. Winding the audience into a state of hysteria, the drama hurtles towards a climax of death and destruction. Rarely have I laughed so loud. And that was only the end of the first half. A modern thriller, the tone is cinematic, while at the same time revelling in slapstick

The company now repeat the performance for the other half of the audience, while those of us who were the audience now go backstage to see the technical crew in action. Less macabre but equally funny, the tone here is more classic comedy – a homage to Buster Keaton. And the climax equals that of the first half. Having taken complete control of the environment, this production could have been performed inside. But even though the open sky did add to the atmosphere of the Picnic, the main value of presenting this piece outside was to emphasise the fact that we were seeing theatricality of cinematic ambition performed in real space and time. Picnic is a breath of fresh air.

Presenting Artists
Site

Platt Fields Park

Date Seen
  1. Jul 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 25