Spring Awakening – Review

Ill-Advised Theatre Company

Smock Alley

28/7/15

Spring Awakening is a heartbreaking story of innocence, oppression and discovery with an impressive score and powerful message. This production, directed by James O’Connor, is a competent and spirited rendition of it.

There was an impressive energy in the cast, with the three leads, Adam Tyrell as Melchior, Kevin C. Olohan as Moritz and Megan McDonnell, giving strong performances, both vocally and in terms of acting. Of the rest of the cast Shane O’Regan and Andy Carberry were particularly notable, with O’Regan switching between the character of Ernst, a shy schoolboy, and a rough reformatory inmate with such skill that it took me a few moments to recognise that it was the same actor. The only point that I would question about the cast is their manner of working as a chorus, though they worked well together for the most part, there were certain ensemble members who, at times, drew attention towards themselves when they were not meant to be the focus of the scene.

Though it is an intense piece, I found that the tension levels, particularly in the first half of the show, were kept too consistently high, leaving the actors with nowhere to go for the climatic scenes; there was little sense of intermittent crescendo. This was a pity as it meant that some of the stunning scenes like the number “Totally Fucked,” which was a show-stopping performance, did not stand out as much as they could have.

In technical terms the set and lighting were minimalistic yet powerful, with some especially beautiful features in Caoimhe Ní Fhaoláin’s lighting design at either side of the interval. I did however find the microphones used were an issue in terms of sound. While I understand why they were being used for the musical numbers, they needed to either be switched off for dialogue or the cast needed more practice using them as dialogue was lost or scenes broken by the sound of someone’s collar bumping the mic, a mic slipping or someone brushing their hand across it. This was an unfortunate issue as it sometimes distracted from what was otherwise a very moving and well-executed production.

      Though there were a couple of issues in directorial and technical terms, I feel that these can be easily ironed out as the run continues. Overall, Spring Awakening is a dynamic production that entertains and engages while portraying a potent and still frighteningly pertinent message.

Spring Awakening runs until Saturday 1st August.

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