Sex. This play is all about sex. Set in the Victorian era, the play explores the dangers, and the hypocrisy, of a society that negates biology.
Spring Awakening presents the story of a group of teenagers as they deal with the struggle between discovering their sexuality and their lifelong beliefs. And it does so in an uncomfortably crude way. I say uncomfortable, because the play makes an excellent job bringing sex and sexuality into the stage, to the point where I found myself laughing uncomfortably during most of the first act.
But most notable was the representation of the conflict between living in a society that denies sex and the teenager’s longing for freedom and knowledge. The teenagers express their anger towards the adult population, as well as their confusion and thirst for answers, through inner monologues that surge in the form of music. Throughout the production, the cast breaks into an elaborate set of energetic musical numbers, complemented by fast changes in the light—from red, to yellow, to blue—that reminded me of a rock concert. Geoff George should be proud of his lighting design, as it was outstanding.
As soon as the stage fully illuminates again, you know that the catharsis has ended, and they are back in the spotlight.
The stage (designed by Jim Guedo) was a perfect metaphor for living in an ever-vigilant society governed by religious notions. With tall pillars on the side, arching at the top, the stage design alludes to the inside of a church. In the middle is a wooden platform with a big chalk board in the back and a set of crosses at the top. Most of the action takes place on the platform—it is a church, a school, someone’s room, a living room, a cemetery. Outside the trapezoid sits the entire cast, watching.
Having won 8 Tony awards, it is a guarantee that just the story is worth the night out. But what really makes this play outstanding was the amazing cast. Except for one actress who seemed to have been distracted, and who lacked energy during the dance numbers, the cast was nothing short of amazing. It makes no sense to name specifics, since the undeniable talent these Grant MacEwan students possess was demonstrated through the collective performance of the whole cast, from the explicit sex scenes, to the energetic dancing, to the striking voices.
Sadly, their performance was tainted by more than a few glitches in the sound—the microphones failed a few times and there was white noise in the background throughout most of the play. But it is a minor setback in an otherwise impactful production. I only need to confess that I was not thrilled with the theme of the story or the character development, since I found it hard to relate to the characters – and even then, I recommend the play and would happily go see it again.
Spring Awakening will play at John L. Haar Theatre until this Saturday, November 3rd. So hurry! It is a short run, and it is definitely worth watching.
For more information on tickets visit Yeglive.ca
Directed by Jim Guedo
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