Spring Awakening review: Dazed and confused
Passionless acting hampers an otherwise entertaining production of a poignant yet riotous musical
The programme of Spring Awakening claims that the musical is about the “emotions of being a teenager.” However, the only adolescent emotion it managed to muster was confusion.
Despite having a range of incredibly talented singers, the director decided to cast two uninspiring performers as leads. Sam Baumal, as Melchoir Gabor, did not appear to be enjoying the show at all: He looked as if he wanted to go to the pub. Whilst undeniably a capable dancer and singer, his acting left much to be desired. His wooden performance was unable to create the sympathy required for his complex character leaving the audience alienated.
Baumal was undoubtedly outshone by the second male lead, 1st year Charlie Nicholson as Mortiz Stiefel. He masterfully captured the nuance and detail of being an awkward angst ridden teenager in both his singing and acting. Unfortunately, he was relegated to a supporting role which left the audience asking why he wasn’t cast in the main role.
The same can be said for the female characters. Rosie Dart’s Wendla Bergman was lacking in passion: her line delivery was frigid and directionless, not lending enough weight to some very powerful lines of dialogue. Unfortunately, this meant any emotion was lost.
Like her male counterpart, she was upstaged by characters with less stage time: the female ensemble were far more energetic and far more interesting to watch when it came to capturing what it is like to be a teenager in love in a restrictive patriarchal society. Their group performance brought much needed fresh air to the production.
This meant that ensemble dance numbers were a joy to watch. The musical’s infamous “totally fucked” number was the highlight of the show. It was powerfully choreographed and performed leaving the audience wanting more.
Despite failing to deliver the more tragic elements of the story, the comedy was spot on. Owen Kennedy was incredibly entertaining as a show-stealing cruel yet comedic teacher. Fellow 1st year Mark Woods’s comic timing was impeccable best demonstrated in his hysterical masturbation scene. It was comforting to see at least some of the cast were enjoying themselves.
Sitting on the side of the thrust stage didn’t help matters. The signing and acting was always projected forward, meaning that half of the audience were practically ignored by the performers leaving many audience members disengaged. This was not aided by the numerous technical issues.
DULOG certainly has a bright future ahead of them. It is a shame that the audience were only given tasters of a potentially great piece of musical theatre.
Spring Awakening will be performed on the 15th 16th and 17th of November in the Joachim room at Hilde Bede College.
Thanks to Ed Rees for providing photos.