In an oppressed nineteenth century Germany, a group of children become teenagers, but with no real knowledge of the adult world or where babies come from, how can they possible protect themselves and each other from the dangers of growing up. Through an explosive rock score, the characters air their frustrations about confusing dreams, the desire for physical contact and the desperate need for knowledge that none of the adults will provide.

The rock nature of this show was expertly delivered through Esmee Cook’s choreography, which saw the performers writhing and twitching with angst, banging along to the beat of the music. Sexualised through the relationship between the hand and the body, the movement was excitingly erotic, beautifully finding those moments of sexual awakening.

Duncan Sheik’s score and Steven Sater’s lyrics were performed with total commitment to the form, with ‘The Bitch of Living’ and ‘Totally Fucked’ sending waves of expressive anger through the audience in the intimate spacing of the theatre. Contrastingly, Melchior (Nitai Levi) standing across a funeral grave from Moritz’s father (James Strahan) was tragically poignant as Levi sings, “All things he ever wished are left behind…for the fool it called a home”. Isabella Rogers (Ilse) gave a stunning rendition of ‘Blue Wind’, with a soulful voice that let us deep within her vulnerabilities. Greg Williamson’s performance as Moritz was as turbulent as the music. At first lost and relying on the comfort of Melchior, his whole body becomes absorbed with vented anger.  Josh Tinline-Bartholomew’s vocals blew the roof, Hanschen and Ernst’s kiss (Joe Christie and Adam Makepeace, respectively) was so awakening it could have very well been their first and Ewan McAdam’s (as Georg) crush on his piano teacher supplied subtle undertones of comedy.

Levi’s Melchior was charming, bordering on controlling; this is what allows us to really question who is at fault when [spoiler alert] Wendla (Alice Hoult) becomes pregnant. There is no consent before they have sex, and arguably neither of them really know what they’re doing. Melchior might be aware of the potential consequences, but with a lack of education the blame becomes controversial. Not only does Wendla not consent, but as soon as he kisses her she pulls away saying “No”.

EUSOG’s production had blood pumping and hearts racing. Musical Director, William Briant, provids the score the justice it deserves, with a blend of voices penetrating through the space and reaching perfect harmonies.


Spring Awakening is playing Paradise in Augustines until 13 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Photo: Andrew Perry