Spring Awakening by Geoids
Spring Awakening is based on the 1981 German Play which tells of a group of teens coming of age in the late 19th century. The show itself originally opening in 2006 on Broadway but since then it has spawned many revivals including a very successful run at the Almeida in 2021/2022 so I was keen to see how Geoids were going to put their own stamp on this show.
Despite the 19th Century setting many of the themes of Spring Awakening remain relevant today and Geoids really drew this out of their production. The group of teens include Moritz who fails to live up to expectations of everyone around him and convinces himself that suicide is the only option, Martha who is subject to abuse from her father and Wendla, innocent and naive to sex and the consequences where as Melchior her childhood friend is headstrong and worldly wise. Between them they only have each other for comfort, support and information as they struggle to understand their desires, their feeling and their bodies.
Due to the themes of the show and the intimacy required between some of the actors it is a risky choice for an amateur group however this risk paid off for Geoids. The themes were handled with sensitivity and the intimate moments struck just the right balance of implied without shying away from tackling these moments head on.
The direction under the creative gaze of Luke Renwick must be commended. Traditionally Spring Awakening has a smaller cast however in amateur theatre there is often a need to include more ensemble. Renwick managed to do this without losing any of the intimacy of the piece that is vital for Spring Awakening to succeed. Renwick was not afraid to keep moments simple for maximum dramatic impact and the gaze of the ensemble throughout vital moments of the show provided a chilling interpretation. The staging was also kept simple and the use of the blocks to make up walkways, seating areas and other set parts was a great touch. My only minor quibble would be that rather than have numerous blackouts, the action could have continued more seamlessly, something that would have been easily achievable with this set.
A large part of Spring Awakening is the rocky sound. This was admirably achieved by the entire cast and band. The highlights were the moments where the entire cast were singing together with rich harmonies such as ‘My Junk’ and ‘Totally Fucked’ so credit to Musical Director and Co-Musical Director for Mike Dukes and Chris Nelson for this as well as the sound engineers for the balance between the band and the cast. Equally the quieter more tender moments provided a great counterpoint to these bigger numbers, ‘The Dark I Know Well,’ being a perfect example of this.
The show was, without exception, well cast. James Warner as Melchior was quietly assured, veering away from arrogance but his nuanced performance also allowed youthful optimism to creep in, making the ending of the show even more powerful. Warner’s confidence contrasted well with Edie O’Brien’s innocent and questioning Wendla. Jack Matthews makes for a conflicted and confused Moritz and his number, ‘Don’t Do Sadness’ was heartbreaking to watch.
Overall Geoids production of Spring Awakening is a mature, accomplished and enthralling watch. One that will leave not only many existing fans of Spring Awakening happy with the thoughtful interpretation but the perfect way for those new to the show to discover it.
Spring Awakening is on at the Bridewell until 11th November 2023. You can find out more and book tickets here.