Spring Awakening, with its mix of jovial-sounding rock and pop songs and intensely dark themes, can be a difficult musical to stage, but the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group (EUSOG) have brought an accomplished performance to the Fringe this year. Thanks to a combination of talented cast members, slick musicians and some stunning choreography from Esmee Cook, the audience become engrossed in this story of sexual repression in 19th century Germany, and some of the song performances really do send shivers down your spine.
Though sometimes feeling rushed for time towards the end, the musical’s twists and turns are delivered with conviction, and it is clear the cast have really put their hearts into the performance. There are some particularly powerful moments from Nitai Levi, who plays Melchior with gusto and exactly the right amount of cockiness, and Greg Williamson delivers a standout performance as Moritz. Alice Hoult was also the perfect match for Wendla and Isabella Rogers gives a particularly impressive and haunting performance as the troubled Ilse. All cast members were well chosen for their roles, in particular the Adults (Caroline Elms and James Strahan) who did a wonderful and often very funny job as their multiple older characters.
EUSOG’s simple staging, while nothing new, makes good use of the small space and at no point did it feel laboured or stale. While the same can be said for the very effective lighting design, the musical did unfortunately suffer from sound problems throughout the performance. At several points, microphones were not turned on at the right time and whole lines of dialogue and song were lost. Some of the cast were also at a disadvantage as they did not have microphones at all and were overpowered by other cast members at points. While these sound problems do not detract from enjoying the musical overall, they did occasionally make the performance hard to follow.
If you can, it is definitely worth catching EUSOG’s Spring Awakening. With only mostly minor issues, this is a passionate performance from some very hard-working, talented cast and crew.
Image: courtesy of production