REVIEW: Spring Awakening – The Famous Spiegeltent, Edinburgh

Eight-time Tony Award-winner, Spring Awakening made its debut off-Broadway in 2006, finally arriving in the West End in 2009 after a sold-out run at the Lyric Hammersmith. An adaptation of Franz Wedekind’s seminal, 1906 work Frühlings Erwachen, it chronicles the rocky path from adolescence to adulthood in a hugely oppressed, 19th Century Germany, dealing with themes of puberty, sexuality, rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide and abortion.

In direct contrast to its setting is its modern pop/rock score from Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater, a score replete with knock-out tunes that both elevate and save the relentlessly dark book.

Edinburgh-based Captivate Theatre’s age-appropriate cast delivers a huge dose of raw enthusiasm and teenage angst throughout and ably cope with the demands of this emotionally draining show. However, their fervor at times spills over into imprecise diction, lack of projection and tuning issues. The cast whilst competent individually is at their strongest when singing as one, and the harmonies are glorious throughout.

This is a gripping work with much to say, but the weakness of the book and its relentless intensity fails to sustain interest for the two-hour running time. Were it not for the first-rate score and the commitment of the young cast it would be a hard watch. A brave choice, which should be applauded.