Due to the cancellation of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a result of Covid-19, The Nottingham New Theatre will be staging their two-part play, ‘SPRING’ and ‘AWAKENING’ by Tara Anegada at the Virtual Upload Festival. I was lucky enough to watch it before its streaming on the 27th and 28th of June.
‘SPRING’ and ‘AWAKENING’ are based on ‘Spring Awakening; A Children’s Tragedy’ by Franz Wedekind. It centres around a group of teenagers sexually maturing while Christian moral teachings control every part of their lives.
Both halves of the production followed different members of the group and their personal journey in discovery and expression of their sexuality. The production explored the consequences of adolescents having a lack of both sex education or a means to freely express themselves during their sexual awakening.
The plays were filmed in the actor’s rooms, with dialogue happening over the phone or as monologues. Some may expect that this would not properly show the relationships between the characters, but it absolutely does. The meaning in the words the actors said were all still there. If anything, the production was made to feel more intimate as it flicked from one bedroom to another as though I were a fly on the wall.
Some may expect that this would not properly show the relationships between the characters, but it absolutely does.
The actors adapted well to the confinement of acting to a camera as opposed to the large space a theatre offers. The pace flowed well for the most part and I was kept interested throughout as the characters each went through emotional ups and downs.
The play had some very emotional moments, and mainly followed the relationship between Wendla Bergman, played by Natascha Austin, and Melchior Gabor, played by Reilly Salmon. Austin perfectly captured the innocence of her character, who had been so misled on how women fall pregnant. Her monologues were performed stunningly with perfect pacing and Wendla’s vulnerability really came through. Her performance was a very strong part of the production, for me.
Her performance was a very strong part of the production, for me.
Ending on a tragic note, Melchior’s heartfelt monologue, played by Reilly Salmon, was hard hitting as I watched his rebellious persona crumble. As can be said for all the actors, such as Olly O’Regan’s portrayal of Moritz’s bitterness, their presentation of the highly emotional scenes gave the characters more dimension and sensitivity which I liked.
The acting throughout felt very natural, so even if as a viewer you had not experienced the problems the characters were facing, you still felt for them. The production showed very clearly the need for better sex education and the potential for disastrous consequences when young people are not treated like adults. The unwillingness of society as a whole to speak honestly about sexual matters and provide support set off a chain of events that changed the character’s lives dramatically.
It was poetic at times, but also approached issues such as suicide and sex with realism without romanticising them too much.
The script was well-written and flowed naturally. It was poetic at times, but also approached issues such as suicide and sex with realism and without romanticising them too much. The heart of the original story remained despite the adaptation being cut down to an hour long. Every viewer would be able to relate in some way to this play, giving it the potential to really hit audiences hard during the climatic parts.
While ‘SPRING’ was directed by Tara Anegada, ‘AWAKENING’ was directed by Jack Titley. It is a credit to both Anegada and Titley that you would not know there were two different directors until seeing the credits. There were no lapses in the directing style and the two clearly worked very well together.
I applaud all involved with the two productions for dealing with such difficult topics so sensitively. ‘SPRING’ and ‘AWAKENING’ make up a very moving piece of digital theatre that raises timeless points on teenage sexuality. Despite the difficult circumstances the cast and crew have had to adapt to, their resilience paid off. The two parts poignantly captured the confusion, embarrassment, and sadness of adolescents navigating their way through their lives in a society that shames their sexuality while they long for a means of expression.
The Upload Virtual Festival will run from the 27th-28th of June, and online tickets are available now for free. This two-part play is a must see for a sad but gripping story of the repression of teenage sexual desire. I really encourage you to support your local arts venues in this uncertain time and get yourself a free ticket for a festival of great productions just like this one!
Rating: 4 Stars
Featured image courtesy of Tara Anegada. Article images courtesy of Tara Anegada. For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on
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