Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening won an impressive list of Tony, Grammy and Olivier Awards. On those occasions the glamour of the production and the quality of the performances must have overcome the many distasteful aspects of the storyline. Sadly, that is not the case with EUSOG.

This will probably not go down in the books as one of their great achievements.

Spring Awakening is a sado-masochistic saga of bullying, ignorance, repression, abortion, suicide and possibly rape. Just the sort of stuff musicals are made of! All of these elements came to the fore in this production. Weaving it’s way through these themes is the story of young people discovering their sexuality and approaching the adult world with varying degrees of trepidation.

Director Emily Aboud’s decision to hand over the most visible part of the stage to the band seems ill-advised. Although there are only five players, their array of instruments and equipment is considerable. Under musical director William Brian they make the most of their elevated status with music that rocks throughout the show and keeps it moving. Meanwhile, the cast is left to perform in the space between the raise and the front row, creating a sometimes difficult viewing angle. The arrangement also shifts the emphasis away from the action onto the musicians.

In a more polished production this disadvantage might have been overcome, but here it only exacerbated other weaknesses. Dialogue was often lost for various reasons, of which being overwhelmed by the band was not the main consideration. Poor enunciation and projection was at the root of the problem, not helped for the most part by mics being used only for the songs. In turn the mics themselves were often an issue with on/off failings and booms.

The cast made a noble effort to sustain this show and there were some enjoyable moments of both solo and chorus numbers, although they were often combined with unimaginatively predictable choreography. Nitai Levi as Melchior had conviction in his free-thinking zeal and singing. Playing opposite, Alice Hoult created a suitably innocent and bewildered Wendla, but it was left to Greg Williamson as Moritz to really rock the show and belt out some powerful numbers. Joe Christie successfully created the fey Hanschen to whom Adam Makepeace as Ernst ultimately succumbed.

EUSOG has a fine tradition of staging musicals and with their following they will no doubt play to full houses. Unfortunately this will probably not go down in the books as one of their great achievements. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

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Performances

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The Blurb

Fresh from their sold out, five-star Fringe productions – EUSOG return with their take on this powerful, Tony award-winning musical about teenage angst and sexual repression in 19th century Germany. An exhilarating blend of hidden desire and rock’n’roll, the plot focuses on a group of schoolchildren coming to terms with growing up in an oppressive society. The songs allow for inner monologues of high intensity, giving these children a voice, as their free thought and curiosity is disciplined out of them through school and religion. Touching and raw, a show about coming to terms with adulthood.

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