On Friday, the Bride of Coturnix, Coturnietta, a friend of hers and I went to DPAC to see ‘Spring Awakening‘. As you may already know, this is a rock adaptation of an old play located in late-19th century Germany, following the growth and maturation of a group of high school students surrounded by a disciplinarian and authoritarian adult world, in which sex is taboo (so they have to learn on their own, feel guilt about it, and suffer consequences) and strict, dogmatic religion trumps every attempt at independent thought or questioning.
I have not seen the play before, though I have heard the soundtrack a million times, but the Bride of Coturnix has seen the original cast on Broadway and says that this rendering was excellent. I agree.
Yes, there is a moment of partial nudity on stage at one point. And a stylized masturbation. And a stylized sexual intercourse. And a kiss between two gay men. And a botched back-alley abortion that kills a girl. And an accurate portrayal of cowardly, insecure adults making up for their own shortcomings by preventing and punishing every youthful act that challenges their power, their standing on the top of the hierarchy, their mad use of religion to enforce that hierarchy, and their own unease with sexuality.
Which is the point of the play.
Which is why it is exactly the young people who are the target audience of the play. The warning on the DPAC website – “Parental Discretion is advised. Mature content, including brief partial nudity, sexual situations, and strong language.” – is there more to satisfy the conservative, authoritarian, cowardly, sexually insecure, adult curmudgeons in our own current society than a statement of fact. Or a real warning to young people to stay away.
The funniest moment for me was when, at the end of Act I, the old man in front of me got up and said how scandalized he was, asking why there was no warning that this was R-rated! Hmmm, I guess a curmudgeon like that does not go online to see the warning either. And he missed the point of the show – that his style of curmudgeonness is exactly what the play is exposing for what it is: hypocritical and dangerous. It is people like him who are NOT the target audience of the play – it is the young people, being warned about folks like him.
There are some good reviews in Durham Herald Sun and Raleigh News and Observer, and even better blog posts by Theatre North Carolina and Ginny Skalski (who wrote it from the perspective of a lucky person who got to sit on the stage).
On the other hand, do not trust Byron Woods of Independent Weekly for your theatrical reviews. It appears he is incapable of arriving on time (compare this to this – half the reviews are about how he was late, and complaining about it as if it’s not his fault), and is more intent on appearing savvy (remember the ‘Church of the Savvy‘ inflicting the media in general?) and slamming a play than telling something informative to the readers – compare his reviews to everyone else’s review of the same play (another example, other than Spring Awakening, is last year’s Fiddler on the roof, compare this to this).
DPAC had some variation in quality of shows this year (expected for such a new place), but ‘Spring Awakening’ was right at the top. If it comes to a theater near you, go and see it.