Alexander Theatre, Monash University Clayton, 30 September - 8 October 2011
It is exhilarating to watch young people decked in tightly buttoned, Little House on the Prairie dresses while belting out angst-filled lyrics that would make Simple Plan proud.
From September 30 to October 8 2011 the Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) gave an impressive performance of Spring Awakening at Monash University Clayton's Alexander Theatre.
This Melbourne Fringe Festival event was based on an 1891 German play written by Frank Wedekind that deals with the issues of rape, homosexuality, masturbation and abortion.
An air of oppression hangs over the play's late-18th-Century setting, weighing down its citizens with rules and guilt about their sins and bodies. There is no place for misbehaviour, and parents are more concerned about their own reputations than the wellbeing of their children.
The energetic ensemble, accompanied by music that has been called "the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade" (Entertainment Weekly), drew laughter and then plunged the audience into the tragedies of youthful ignorance and despair.
James Cerche outshone his cast members as Mortiz, the anxious student who seems to struggle more than everyone else in school. His performance provided contrasts between the nervous, jumpy schoolboy and the angsty teen who, through his musical numbers, rages at his own despair that becomes too much to bear.
Jem Nicholas also impresses as Wendla, capturing the alluring innocence of a girl who suffers as a consequence of sex education being withheld from her.
Other than the rock and roll score, what makes Spring Awakening stand out is the depth of the story. Many musicals, even large-scale productions such as Cats and The Lion King, have simplistic storylines that do not delve into any deeper subject matter like Spring Awakening does. The result is a moving portrait of sexual awakening and youth in despair.
What is most impressive about this production is the quality of its delivery from a cast composed of current Monash students and recent graduates, including a 19-year-old production manager, resulting in a very bold, and successful performance.
4 out of 5