Theatre: Spring Awakening


Spring Awakening, originally uploaded by Lyric Hammersmith.

Tuesday I caught a preview of Spring Awakening at the Lyric Hammersmith. It is one hell of an energetic show (and hopefully by the time it is out of preview all the cast will have grown into their roles). Teen angst, sexual discovery, masturbation, abortion and suicide have never looked better on stage or been presented with a great rock (? - well it's hard to classify it) score. It isn't quite a musical in the traditional sense but it presents it concept in such an interesting way that I only wished they turned up the volume more and blasted the audience... Well, when everyone is singing "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah," and looking so good, it just seems like the most logical thing to do...

The show won eight Tony Awards including for best new musical in 2007 and the creative team from the New York production are here at the Lyric. It is interesting that the Columbine massacre was part inspiration for this show and that the source material is from Frank Wedekind's sometimes-banned play from the nineteenth century. That is not to say that all this teen angst and period drama makes for a downbeat evening. The music and energy make up for that. A highlight is the song Totally F***ed, which I thought was not just relevant to teenagers. To give away anything further of the plot is neither necessary nor relevant. It is a show to experience. Many of the cast are also making professional acting debuts here too.

The ten of us (who tended toward the other end of the age spectrum) who caught the show thought it was great. Although John did fall asleep in the second half. I attributed this partly to the fact that the second act is a bit ballad-heavy, and that he was exhausted from taunting the man in front of him for the early part of the evening...

The man in front, who I decided to dub Rain Man at some stage during the first act, kept turning around at the slightest noise you would make. No cough, or rustle of the programme was quiet enough for his liking. And when I periodically opened my bottle of sparkling water (only during moments of applause I might add), you could imagine the death stares I started to get when there was a slight Pfffffft. Well, it may have been more than a slight Pffffffft as later John confessed that he was creating additional sound effects to accompany my bottle opening...

Anyway, normally I am the first to object to noise in the theatre, but I suspect this man had hearing issues, or was a tad odd... He seemed to be quite unreasonable with his non-verbal complaining so for most of the first act, John made it his mission to flick his programme and rustle his belongings at any chance just to wind him up. Along with my periodical Pfffft-ing, it was hard at times to concentrate on the show as Rain Man kept turning around. But I did my best to ignore him. For the second act, we all stocked up on fizzy water and bags of crisps... We munched and pfft'ed our way through the second act with such defiance that woe betide anyone that objected... It was probably watching all that rebellion on stage that made us do it...

The show runs until March 14. See it with attitude too...

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