Brett Herriot at the Festivals

Spring Awakening, Edinburgh Little Theatre, RSE Theatre- Wolfson Theatre (Venue 431) Review:

**** 4 Stars

Truly captures the days of purple summers 

Steven Sater’s and Duncan Sheik rock opera adaptation of Frank Wedekin’s play is an exploration of youth, boundaries, love and learning to discover who and what we are. It’s enjoyed many productions around the world since its off-Broadway debut and has become a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe Season such is the appeal of the score and engaging storylines.

Spring Awakening is really a series of individual stories of adolescence that cross with each other at various points and Edinburgh Little Theatre have revived their production of the show in their new home of the RSE Theatre on George Street and deliver a powerfully moving production. 

Director Stuart Mitchell has work it tight small cast into a tight ensemble, even though some of the cast are sitting on the cusp of being a tad too mature for the roles they are none the less engaging and truly show the teenage battle with adolescence from an period in time were ignorance on sex and sexuality was the best way to handle things. The irony being it cause untold damage.

In the central role of “Melchior”, Cameron Kelsey gives a taught, emotional and engrossing performance and while the sex scene is near the knuckle it is delivered with truth. The same is true of the sublime Melissa MacNaught as “Wendla” her performance that’s dripping in honesty is the standout for the show, as the tears flow from her eyes you can’t helped but be impacted by her power.

Alex Bathe brings a sassiness to “Hanschen” without it ever becoming camp and makes the homosexual storyline with James Phillips “Ernst” gripping to watch and special mention must go to whoever casted the pair in the roles, it’s refreshing to see off the track casting that really works.

Musical Director Falk Meier delivers powerhouse vocals from the cast but the major thing letting the show down overall is the strange sound choices, none of the cast are mic’d and the click tracks are pumped in to two large speakers on stage facing the cast. It leaves the overall sound very unbalanced and there are moments when the lyrics are hard to hear clearly as the cast try to project above the sound levels. Even some overhead mics would help even the balance.

This is fine production of the show which runs at just over two hours and ten minutes with excellent performances that make the most of the tight space and does leave you pondering how much has changed for the youth of today are still doing battle with the same issues. 

This Spring Awakening truly captures the days of purple summers that forever touches the heart of the memories in us all! Wonderful stuff indeed!

Spring Awakening, Edinburgh Little Theatre, RSE Theatre- Wolfson Theatre (Venue 431) For tickets go to: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/spring-awakening or directly from the venue box office.

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