Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening
A German Drama Group Performance
by Luke McGoldrick
Frank Wedekind’s ‘Spring Awakening’ was first performed in a Berlin production in 1906 and now, almost a century later, it’s being performed at Aberdeen University’s Arts Lecture Theatre by the University’s German Drama Group. For the record, my German isn’t very good... actually, I don’t speak German at all. Luckily (and thanks to the society), the play had surtitles which I could sort of keep up with.
I’ll admit, I did struggle to read the surtitles and watch the action on stage at the same time. From what I could tell, however, just about every actor in this production was committed to their role; perhaps some showed more enthusiasm than others. I could see the dedication from most of the cast - especially from the actors in the two lead roles. The actors playing multiple parts were also great, as they managed to bring a different quality to each character they played.
Unfortunately, there were a few moments where people had clearly forgotten their lines. The problem wasn’t that they had forgotten their lines (as these things happen); they just made it very noticeable, which was something that took me out of the story. Sometimes, one actor would just wait for the other person to remember their line - making it more awkward. Thankfully, this only happened a few times.
The actors were working with a minimal set design so it was all down to the performances. I felt that the actors used the space brilliantly. I also really liked the use of atmospheric sound effects in conveying the setting of the scene, which was well managed. I don’t know what amount of effort went into costume design, but everyone looked amazing and the clothing matched the play’s 19th century German setting.
First written between autumn 1890 and spring 1891, this controversial play, dealing with taboo topics, was banned until 1906 when it was first performed in Germany. It’s a story about the loss of innocence and sexual awakening; it deals with sexual abuse, repression, homosexuality, suicide and so much more. While these are important topics, the play’s handling of them isn’t that interesting. After a while, I started to lose interest and found the play tiresome to keep up with; it started to feel more like a lecture than a riveting piece of social drama.
Although I wasn’t too keen on the story, the German Drama Group put on a pretty good show. Considering they have only put up a few plays so far, they did great and I hope to see more productions from them in the future.