Review: Spring Awakening

Katie Briefel discovers there’s more to Spring Awakening than nudity, masturbation and sex scenes.

The latest MTB production Spring Awakening promised nudity, a sex scene, and a character pleasuring himself on stage. Whilst this may have helped lure in doubting punters, this was a play worth going to see regardless.

The play opened strongly with a confident performance from Vanessa Shields as Wendla, who excelled throughout. She sung beautifully and executed some of the more poignant moments, including an uncomfortable, hard-hitting caning scene very convincingly.

Her lover, played by Oli Higginson also deserves credit for his unfaltering performance, as he commanded the stage with gusto in several heartfelt scenes.

Higginson also deserves credit for having the bravery to bare his bottom and pretend to have sex on stage in front of an audience of fellow students. The scene was taken about as far as possible short of the two actors actually having sex.

On the subject of bravery, credit is also due to Jamie Budgett as Hanschen, who really stood out throughout the play, not only for the scene in which he pleasures himself. He frequently had the audience in hysterics, especially when seducing and finally making-out with another guy on stage.

Another highlight was the chemistry between Letty Thomas and Oscar Millar who bounced brilliantly off each other. Letty once again demonstrated the ease at which she can turn a scene from comic to tragic and command the audience’s attention with her powerful use of a silence or a single look. Rose Lucas’ performance as Martha was also very moving and her vocals came across as particularly strong.

A behind-the-scenes glimpse from tech rehearsals
Photo: MTB

The characters’ journey of sexual discovery was communicated beautifully through Nikita Sellers’ ambitious choreography. The sexual frustration of the group of schoolboys was brilliantly expressed with a routine of floor-stamping and chair-jumping, whilst music was seamlessly integrated into the play by having violinists and guitarists on-stage as actors.

In particular, the choreography for the song ‘Totally Fucked’ left the audience in awe, provoking raptures of applause.

Unfortunately, there were some serious technical issues, with microphone interference crackling through some of the heartfelt solos, things falling off the stage, and general sound issues that needed ironing out.

However, they thankfully didn’t get in the way of what was a thoroughly entertaining and inspiring performance.