Review: Spring Awakening

We all know how it feels to be a teenager. It seems as though your whole life has led up to the current moment. No one has ever felt such […]

five stars

We all know how it feels to be a teenager. It seems as though your whole life has led up to the current moment. No one has ever felt such intense emotion as you are feeling, no one will ever understand what you are going through and there are certainly no parents who try and restrict their children as much as yours do.

spring awakening

Imagine all of these adolescent uncertainties and doubts gathered into one ninety minute production, throw in some dark humour and a large amount of extremely mature, sexual scenes and you have Headlong’s production of Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening is a gritty, intense play full of young, unadulterated sexual angst which embodies the confusion and danger caused by sheltering teenagers from the harsh realities of life. The original play was a musical set in late nineteenth century Germany. However, director Ben Kidd updates the production by including Skype chats, YouTube and social networking to introduce the audience to a modern world we all recognise. The tragic events on the stage, it seems, could suddenly be happening to anyone in the real world, adding a frightening and uncomfortably realistic aspect to the play. Kidd echoes the deep-seated issues of this generation, stuck in a world where children are forced to grow up far too quickly and are left to face the disastrous consequences unprepared. The contrast between the set of a children’s playground and the adult themes of pornography and sex highlight the tragedy of these lost childhoods and act as a constant reminder of the youth and naiveté of the characters, despite how old the actors may seem.

Having never seen Spring Awakening before I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the Nuffield theatre. The only signals were signs placed everywhere which warned the audience of the play’s explicit sexual content. Naturally, I was incredibly intrigued by this and was wondering exactly how far the play would go, after all how far can you go on a live stage? Well the answer is very far.  The play opens to a young man pleasing himself in a museum and this certainly sets the sexually explicit scene for the rest of the production. However, you shouldn’t have only been warned of the sexual content but also of the incredibly intense emotional themes. With extremely mature and serious subjects of suicide, rape, death and abortion, it was definitely not for the faint hearted. I came out of the theatre feeling utterly exhausted and emotionally drained after such dramatic and passionate performances.  In short, it felt like an especially long and angst-y episode of Skins; not one to go and see if you are in the mood for light-hearted entertainment.

Despite this, I thought the play was excellent and definitely worth the five-star rating I have granted it. The script was thought-provoking, the actors’ performances were heartfelt and engaging and the direction ingenious. I cannot recommend the experience enough.