Saturday, December 09, 2006


“I don’t do sadness.”

One day Bob called me over to the computer, sat me down, and saying, “Watch this,” played a video clip. About three minutes later the clip ended and I got up to find the reduced-price mailer I had gotten for SPRING AWAKENING, a clip of which Bob had just shown me. We saw the complete show earlier this week, and I’m having a hard time getting certain parts of it out of my head. In a good way.

The show is a musical version of Frank Wedekind’s apparently notorious 1890’s play, which has been banned off and on over the years. I’ve never read the play. Is the play banned because it dares to deal in a frank way with the sexual and emotional maturation of children, or because it lays the blame for what happens to these children squarely on the repressive trinity of Church, School and Home?

Anyway, the play focuses on a pair of schoolboys, Moritz and Melchior. Moritz is the school misfit, not unintelligent but rather clearly having a rough time with puberty: his hormones are really gushing. Melchior seems to be the school’s star, handsome and intelligent, clearly meant for Better Things. Moritz is being picked on by the school administration, Melchior begins a relationship with a young girl named Wendla.

The plot isn’t really the thing in this show. Anyone with any experience of narratives at all will be able to see where the story is going. What is at stake is the relentless energy and passion on that stage, the way that the screwed up hysteria of youth has been captured in a work of theatre that never condescends to the characters or to the audience. There’s none of the sentimentality or self-congratulation that mars RENT, no tacked-on pseudo-happy ending or self-righteous gabbling about the end of the millennium. A scene that evokes the ghosts of the past is powerful and harrowing and deeply moving, especially in comparison with a certain idiotic scene in GREY GARDENS.

Per Addison DeWitt: I am available for shouting from rooftops and dancing in the streets. (I thought that went out with Woolcott!)

Here's the clip.


pseudolus said...

Great review . . . up to the gratuitous shot at GREY GARDENS.

I love Spring Awakening!

Popcultureboy said...

I'm very happy this has become the little show that could. I'm very annoyed with myself that I opted to see The Vertical Hour instead of the first Broadway preview when I had the chance. Ah well.