Writer: Frank Wedekind
Director: Gyorgy Vidovszky
Translator: Francis J. Ziegler
The Dublin Youth Theatre return to the Dublin Theatre Festival with Frank Wedekind’s controversial play,Spring Awakening. Written by Wedekind in the late 1800’s,Spring Awakening illuminates the disdain that Wedekind felt for the level of sexual oppressiveness present in German society at the time. Dealing with issues of rape, suicide, homosexuality and abortion, the play is jarring, dark and ultimately interesting.
Following the stories of; Lammermier (Séan Talbot), Robert (Adam Byrne), Martha (Ali Dempsey McMahon,) Hans (Conor Murray), Thea (Caoimhe Byrne Gray), Ilse (Lilly Lee), Moritz (Paul Harris), Melchior (Peter Newington), Otto (Ruairi Bond), Georg (Ferdia Murray) and Wendla (Martha Breen), each issue is dealt with, with sensitivity, bravery and skill. The effect that a predominately underage cast has on the work is interesting, and adds more depth to the content of the work. The audience get to explore these adolescent issues through an adolescent audience, allowing for the audience’s own memories of childhood to come to the surface.
The set design hints at another era, giving a sinister look to the stage. The language choices made when translating the script make the work more accessible. The familiar local nuances of language give the show a more universal feel. All of the young actors perform their rôles well, and their commitment is apparent. One negative of the performance however was the slight disconnect between the tone of Wedekind’s script and the tone of the performed piece. At times the show came across at too light hearted for the subject matter, and this reviewer isn’t sure if this was an intentional jarring of tone, or just a lack of experience on the parts of the performers.
The audience, as a result, was at times unsure of where the moments of comedy and seriousness lay. One thinks that perhaps the apparent presence of so many friends and family may have had something to do with the audience/performance disconnect, resulting in a more lighthearted, comedic imagining of the text.
Aside from this, the moments of tension were well performed; again every dark moment seemed much more so due to the age of the young performers.
A brave choice for this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival, and another success for the Dublin Youth Theatre.