Disclaimer: I’ve never been on a real picnic in my life. You see, I’m not really one for bugs and other things that are creepy and crawly and unmistakably present at your most obvious picnic venues. With that being said, if I were to ever imagine what a real picnic was like, Picnic performed by Agape Actors Co-Op at the Black Box Theatre at East View High School was far from a typical insect laden walk in the park and instead an interesting series of twists and turns much more comparable to an interwoven maze. Despite a slow start in Act I, Picnic did a great job at leaving me feeling like I wanted more and needed to know how each of the characters made out on their final decisions. That same lingering feeling is a small part of what I believe makes good theatre.
Picnic, a play written in 1953 by acclaimed playwright William Inge, tells the story of a young and attractive man named Hal who causes quite the stir amongst the women in a Kansas town during Labor Day weekend. His smooth talking, quick witted personality is both a cause for infatuation and skepticism amongst the female characters. While exploring his story, we meet Madge, Madge’s sister Millie and their mother Flo. Madge and Hal end up falling for each other against Flo’s wishes and Madge leaves the town and her long time boyfriend Alan in search of a future with Hal.
The opening scene, which was meant to setup a strong theme of youth and feminine beauty often came across as a recitation of memorized lines rather than true expression and the actors and actresses deeply feeling their personal core wounds needed to fully develop and introduce us to each character. In some parts, lines often came across as forced which could’ve been chalked up to the fact that the play was old-timey in it’s nature and rawest form. Despite this, by act II, the play begun to spring to life and each character began to evolve. By act III, I was entranced by the dramatic creativity and life that was brought to the script’s words and the cast did a stellar job at adding texture to each character and their character’s purpose.
The stand out performances included Alyssa Castro playing the role of Millie Owens and the heated exchange between Rosemary Sydney in the role of Georgia Medler and Dave Lovelace playing the role of Howard Bevans.
All in all, Picnic earned a 3 out of 5 stars and a solid performance by the Agape Actors Co-Op.