Spring Awakening

Oscar Theatre Company at The Cremorne Theatre, QPAC in Brisbane

“Asking: what went wrong? Do they think we want this? Oh, who Knows!”

It’s the coming of age story of German students in the late 19th century as they struggle against their oppressive elders. This involves rock music, breasts and masturbation in what ironically is not a solo number.

I know lots of people who love Spring Awakening; people who don’t usually like musicals. Looking among the crowd at the theatre, I am warned by all the youth and punk hair that this is not the usual theatre crowd. The music played before the show must be hip as I recognise it from a coke advertisement on TV. In advance I knew that this would not be my kind of show. The staging was beautiful and the lighting was very effective, adding to the most powerful numbers like ‘Bitch of Living’, ‘Totally Fucked’ and ‘Don’t Do Sadness.’ Other stand out scenes include the reprise of ‘Word of your body,’ ‘My Junk’ and generally the Male Adult was spot on. Yet I just could not feel moved by it. As much as I would hate to blame the cast, most of the dialogue was stilted and the girl’s numbers didn’t have the same emotional pull that the boys did. The biggest barrier I found was the awful decision that the cast keep their Australian accents. I suppose this was to make them more relatable and it may have worked using just the teenagers, who already have microphones and rock music, but the two adults used a great German accent only when playing the evil school masters. Parents, cruel or otherwise, had Australian accents, a painfully exaggerated one in the case of Melchior’s Mother. It may be my good girl attitude, liberal parents and (I’ll say it politely) my lack of sexual frustration that prevent me from really getting into the spirit of the show, but it is rather difficult to feel involved when you have to struggle not to make eye contact with all the people on-stage touching themselves. In such a small theatre, these moments don’t seem the freeing acts they are on a Broadway stage with the luxury of distance. I can deal with seeing breasts, I do have a pair after all, but once they came out we knew that the couple were going to have sex. There was no need for them to keep acting out the foreplay. She is pregnant in the next scene; we can understand they have sex. There is no need to prove it. I’m sitting next to a complete stranger in a dark room practically watching these two have sex. All I want them to do is stop. And thus the last hour in praise of free love is undone.

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