Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s rock musical Spring Awakening is being brought to life by RJ Productions. Under the direction of Issy Paul this already thought-provoking and significant work is to be presented in a whole new light in a few weeks time.
Based on the 1891 German play Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, it explores the sexual awakening of a group of teenagers; a theme which, despite its original 19thcentury German setting, can be, and has been, transposed into practically any environment. The play, which is originally rather tragic and morbid in nature, is given a vivacity by this musical; while of course aspects at it will tug at the heartstrings, it is certainly a piece full of energy and excitement. This musical is in effect a symbiotic relationship between the natural desire of adolescents to rebel and to ask the big questions and the unavoidable turmoil of teen-life.
Hannah Andrusier plays Wendla Bergmann, the young girl desperate to grow up and learn more about the realities of life. Her portrayal is undoubtedly brilliant; having heard her sing I am under no illusion that with her vocals she will do the character justice. With songs like Those You’ve Knownand Mama Who Bore Me?the audience is exposed to the raw reality of human desire and the natural inquisitively of the young – the alt-rock score adding a whole new dimension to this already provocative play.
Particularly notable was the performance of Henry Waddon (Melchior). The authenticity of his performance was deeply moving; his calibre of both acting and singing quite incredible; I very much look forward to seeing him explore other roles in the future. Similarly, the heart-breaking scene in the forest between Ilse and Moritz, perhaps one of my favourite parts of the original play, is brilliantly and honestly portrayed by Maddy Page and Joe Winter. I was hugely impressed with their rhythm and co-ordination in this scene; these two actors connect really well and the flow of this conversation is perfectly paced, bringing out the full emotional potential of this key moment in the story.
However, although these individual scenes were brilliant, perhaps my favourite part was the closing number: Purple Summer– the chemistry between this cast is visibly noticeable; with only four weeks of rehearsal time, it is quite phenomenal how smoothly and naturally they move together on stage.
With a very short run of only four days at the Oxford Playhouse, this production is certainly not one to miss. I recommend getting yourself a ticket as soon as possible!
Spring Awakening is running at The Oxford Playhouse 6-9 November.
Evening performances: 7:30pm on 6, 7and 9 November and 8pm p on the 8thNovember
Matinees: 2:30pm on the 7 and 9 November