This is two hours that deals with sensitive themes and ends far too soon, on a bittersweet note.
The show’s music perfectly epitomises the raw emotion running through the narrative, and the cast more than do justice to it. Every number is vocally spot-on, shiver-inducing, and leaves you wanting more. Particular highlights are the harmonies of Touch Me performed beautifully by the ensemble as dialogue plays out over the top, truly setting the haunting tone of the show. Tom Chippendale’s Melchior and Katherine Growney’s Wendla are mesmerising as they perform The Word of Your Body, and I believe every single word they say. Stephen Johnson’s performance of And Then There Were None as Moritz had me resisting the urge to punch the air in its early moments.
This production is worth seeing just for the musical score, but on top of that, every character is portrayed maturely by the cast. Stephen Johnson is especially nuanced as Moritz; a stand-out performance. Tia Hyson portrays Martha, who deals with abuse from her father, and while most of the time her performance is convincing, there are moments that this wavers. However, perhaps this is simply due to the constraints of the script; the only qualm I have with Spring Awakening is its lack of focus on Martha’s storyline, which perhaps deserves more time.
The staging and set, too, work very well for the production. Having the entirety of the cast constantly present at either side of the stage adds to the environment of close scrutiny in which the teenagers are living. However, this does mean that any movement at all from the sides draws attention away from the centre of the stage. In a musical which requires such close concentration, any small distraction shatters the magic. This does happen on a few occasions; the size of the venue isn’t quite appropriate for the scale of the production.
This is two hours that deals with sensitive themes and ends far too soon, on a bittersweet note. I would recommend this production both to fans of the musical and to those who have never seen or heard of it before. – And even to those who would not normally go to see musical theatre!