Picnic takes place over about 24 hours or so in the hot late summer of rural Kansas, where the most exciting that happens is a picnic with returning teachers and students. As it turns out, this simple picnic and the events surrounding it set off a series of decisions in several characters' lives, changing them forever. The action takes place in the shared yard of Mrs. Potts and Mrs. Owens. The latter is the mother of two teenage daughters - older sister Madge, "the pretty one," and younger sister Millie, "the smart one." Madge has a wealthy college-educated boyfriend Alan, whom her mother hopes will marry her. But both girls have bigger dreams for their future. Dreamy Madge is dissatisfied with only being "pretty," and wonders what else there is for her, and tomboy Millie wants to read and learn and move to New York. Their father's absence is never explained, but it's hinted that he left them in some way. Mrs. Owens has taken in boarders, including "old maid schoolteacher" Rosemary. The appearance of a young man, who turns out to be a fraternity pal of Alan's, begins to stir things up. They all plan to go to the picnic together, but whisky, dancing, and frank conversations change those plans. Morning dawns, with a heartbreaking and beautiful conclusion full of raw emotion, as Madge cries out in anguish, "What do you do with this love that you feel? Where is there that you can take it?"
|Madge (Sarah Frazier) and Hal (Jarome Smith)
Picnic continues at Lyric Arts in Anoka through January 26. Check it out for a well-done community theater** production of an American classic.
*Fun fact: the original Broadway production of Picnic featured the debut of a young actor named Paul Newman as Alan.
**I do view theater differently at a community theater vs. a professional theater, because they simply are not working with the same resources. But I often admire artists who work in community theater more because most of them do not get paid; they do it "for the love." And it's often just as enjoyable and engaging, which is what it's all about.