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Spring Awakening

Published Thursday 19 May 2011 at 12:47 by Anne Broom

Seldom does a young cast sing out with such passion and energy as they do in this impressive production, the first UK tour of a controversial musical. Pete Gallagher directs with insight and courage, inspiring his strong and spirited ensemble to build and play out a story that is unafraid to shock.

A scene from Spring Awakening at Exeter Northcott

A scene from Spring Awakening at Exeter Northcott Photo: Sell a Door

Incest and abuse lie beneath a veneer of polite society in late 19th century Germany, its sexual parameters strictly laid out. With little knowledge or parental guidance, a group of young adolescents explore awakening erotic desires with tragic results.

Set centrally on a stage dominated by a stylistic tree of knowledge, a visual metaphor that is flanked by dual stairways, musical director Michael Bradley (piano) accompanied by guitar, bass and drums ensures that Duncan Sheik’s rock music underpins and forwards the story. Shaping the action, music echoes the reality and fantasy that are juxtaposed in adolescent worlds dominated by authority and youthful escapism.

Clever and sophisticated beyond his years, the worldly-wise and intelligent Melchior is portrayed by Jonathan Eio, an actor whose fine singing voice and charisma lend credence to the character. Victoria Serra makes an impressive debut performance as Wendla, subtly blending innocence and awareness, so that the couple’s erotic sexual encounter achieves a gentle dream-like sensitivity. Billy Cullum’s Moritz is a driven and disturbed, angst-ridden youngster whose fear of failure and of parental displeasure drives him to despair. With inventive technique, Jane Stanton and Robert Eyles play the adult roles in an accomplished and disciplined ensemble.

Production information

Exeter Northcott, May 17-21, then touring until June 18

Authors:
Steven Sater (book and lyrics), Frank Wedekind (play)
Director:
Pete Gallagher
Producer:
Sell a Door Theatre Company
Cast includes:
Jonathan Eio, Victoria Serra, Billy Cullum, Jane Stanton, Robert Eyles
Running time:
2hrs 10mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15
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