Spring Awakening@ C

Getting young and dirty

Article by Antony Sammeroff | 11 Aug 2011

You don’t get much more risqué than featuring high-school teens in a show about sexual awakenings of youth, and Spring Awakenings has previous form. Frank Wadekind’s 1891 play by the same title (upon which Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s 2006 musical adaptation is based) was banned for pressing on sensative taboos.

The shock at the introduction of actors who are the same with the characters they play in this musical perhaps belies the lingering remnants of a social taboos regarding the fruition of sexuality in our youth.

In a society where violence in popular culture is accepted as the norm while depiction of two adults making love is still largely forbidden, even condemned as pornographic, what may appear as a period piece on Victorian Germany still holds relative clout. Gordounstoun School produce this show which challenges the tradition of a conservative adult generation’s attempt to shape the youth in their image in the name of values – even at the expense of their lust for life.

From the morose and mellow tones of the opening number, to the unbearably catchy chorus of rock anthem “Totally Fucked” the play tackles heavy issues. The repressive society, academic pressure on school children, a lack of sexual education resulting in child pregnancy, abortion, suicide, homosexuality and child abuse, both physical and sexual. At one point a student bares her undergarments in a projection of one child’s Freudian fantasy over his piano tutor. It's a shocking moment.

Nigel William’s spirited direction animates strands of youths who merge into one, singing in chorus, before casting asunder once again in lively spirals of action - a skillful use of space. With experience more naturalism will flower into the acting of the youthful cast, for now a little melodrama serves to reinforce the passion of the romantic setting.

Spring Awakening, C, 5-12 aug 1.30pm