Spring Awakening – West Yorkshire Playhouse – Showing until 22 March 2014
A Headlong, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Nuffield, Southampton co-production, Frank Wedekind’s highly controversial play, Spring Awakening, (originally written in German) has been brought back to life with a modern fresh twist. This is thanks in no small part to the young, award-winning playwright Anya Reiss and the incredible cast. Wedekind’s masterpiece is seen here in a new light, but still has the provocative eruptions that the original text became infamous for.
Spring Awakening was completed in 1891 (premiered in 1906), and was subsequently banned from theatres due to its themes of teenage sexuality, rape, child abuse, suicide, abortion and homosexuality. This play pitches a challenging journey to showcase the difficulty of being a teenager, as you discover aspects of yourself that you may not be ready to comprehend. In this new version it’s interesting how Reiss retells the story through actors portraying more than one character, switching back and forth between their adult and youthful roles. Reiss’s clear vision perfectly brings the challenge and intrigue of the original play to a new generation.
Still today the piece is seen as highly controversial. And for what? This is what teenagers go through. I feel it is great to show this in such a creative and relatable way. In this new and skilful adaptation the play is entrenched in modern technology, everything from Skype calls (a live feed) to a collision of images and videos. The modern version sees Spring Awakening playing out amongst our modern preoccupations rather than what teenagers would have been framed by back in the 1890s. The story is timeless, yet utterly contemporary through its modern legs. The essence of the original is still there, but this performance has taken on a life of its own. Everything that a teenager experiences is in this performance, everything.
The piece also shows us that being a teenager can be really traumatic, I know. The performance embraces this extremely well. Some people would be expected to walk out, as some may see the performance as too much, but they’d be missing out. I felt the overall production and direction of the play verged on a masterpiece. It was a great pleasure to see my favourite play in the flesh and have my expectations exceeded. I was engaged, shaken, and overwhelmed with the abundance of emotions within this piece. A blunt and striking piece of unique theatre. Go and book a ticket to see it now!
‘Search fearlessly for every sin, for out of sin comes joy.’ – Frank Wedekind
Book Tickets at www.wyp.org.uk/what’s-on/2014/spring-awakening
Spring Awakening is playing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until March 22nd 2014 and then continues on tour (headlong.co.uk).