Friday, 23 May 2014

Spring Awakening

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Spring Awakening
Headlong Theatre
Northern Stage
Tuesday 20th May 2014


"Someone can't help what makes them happy or not happy, that doesn't make them a good or bad person."

A contemporary version of the original rock musical of the same name, Anya Reiss' adaptation of Spring Awakening tackles tough youth issues with a contemporary edge. The cast of young actors takes you on a heart breaking whirlwind of a sexually oppressed nation.

Definitely not a production for the prudish, sexual issues in young people are tackled head on with explicit sex scenes from the off. Despite modern day culture becoming more and more sexualised there are still massive flaws in sex education and Reiss' adaptation highlights these particularly well with the character of Wendla. Wendla's limited sexual education becomes more evident as the play progresses and we watch her struggle with the difference between love, sex and aggression. From the moment Wendla took to the stage in an argument we've all had with our mother's about what is appropriate to wear to her final exit I was transfixed to her story.

Spring Awakening also looks into the issues of drugs and mental ill-health, both in a somewhat brave manner. I believed each and every character throughout the play and couldn't help but wonder if things would be different for them if they'd been exposed to different environments in their younger years or had been given the support they deserved. I feel Spring Awakening makes real all of the youth issues that adults like to brush off as merely hormones and the detrimental effects not giving them all of the information they need in life.

Being adapted from a musical which debuted a century ago, Spring Awakening had potential to be outdated in parts, however I felt that the modern adaptation takes good advantage of the technology now available in theatre production. Particularly the use of projections onto the backdrop of the stage and the use of webcam between the young people.

Ultimately, after watching Spring Awakening I feel like nothing has changed but time. Young people still face the massive pressures of teenage life that they did way back when the original was produced a century ago. If anything the newer adaptation explores the ease of accessing pornographic material and the unrealistic expectations the internet sets for young people.

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