Grace Nalty battles her ongoing sexual repression alongside the flawless cast of Spring Awakening
The first time I heard about Spring Awakening was at a party, and the gist I got was that I was in for two hours of sexually repressed teenagers in 19th century Germany just trying to make their way through the murky undergrowth that is teenage life. None of those words sounded appealing to me, drunk or sober. But, alas. the time came for me to once again deal with the trials and tribulations of being an awkward teen: to relive my parents unashamedly avoiding my pleas for answers and leaving me to stumble blind through the battlefield that is puberty.
However, I was pleasantly liberated by how engaging the show actually was. I mean, I totally relate to the cast. I too feel like my journey of sexual discovery took shape through a spicy and lyrical jambalaya of song and dance, with undertones of confusion and shame.
The cast deal with some strong and sensitive themes with a level of conviction and emotion, yet the show didn’t lose its witty edge. There were stand out comedic performances throughout coming from Ross Tomlinson (Hanschen), Ben Hiam (Georg) and Sam Thomas (a multitude of witty and interchangeable characters cast under the generic name of ‘Adult Male’). The humour is heightened throughout with the choreography, which is imaginative and playful.
Lily Donnelly, who plays the innocent and naive female lead Wendla, was excellently cast and played her role convincingly and with a strong vocal, alongside her charismatic love interest Melchior (Matthew Wedlich).
The staging was effective and subtle, so much so that I found myself thinking ‘good use of those stairs’ or ‘that bookcase looks real good there’ several times throughout, distracting myself with how un-distracting the stage was. Who knew I cared so much about stages?
The lighting was great too (shameless UCLU Stage Crew shout out) and added to the rock vibe they had going on; I was half expecting Melchior to bite off a bat’s head and crowd-surf his way out of the theatre to a Latin heavy metal jam. But remember to take your sunnies, as I may have been partially blinded by the blearing rock concert-esque lights in the finale.
Despite my now hazy and obscured sight (I’m hoping I’ll stop seeing black spots soon), UCLU Musical Theatre always does a good job at picking a musical that hasn’t been overworked and doesn’t set unrealistic goals of achievability. Most that come to see Spring Awakening will have a limited knowledge of the plot and characters, which is refreshing for musical theatre lovers at UCL. It’s an emotional tale that has some engaging twists and I would highly recommend seeing this show before it ends – who reads in reading week anyway?
Be quick, because sex(ual discovery) sells (out).
Photos: George Washbourn