Victorian Shocker for the 21st Century; REVIEW: Spring Awakening, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. ?????

Article excerpt

ENJOY the play," urged the ever-enthusiastic Paul Fanning as we arrived for Frank Wedekind's much-censored work, Spring Awakening, which is the final offering in Everyman Theatre's season of "banned plays". Fanning is the company's front-of-house man who also plays a minor role in this fascinating production.

Perhaps the word "enjoy" is inappropriate for a 19th century play which deals with issues of sexuality, abuse, abortion and suicide with a frankness that retains the ability to shock even a 21st century audience.

But enjoy it we did. This was due in large part to the enthusiasm and impressive acting skills of the young people in the lead roles. The older members of the cast were also on top form. Particular mention should be made of Ray Thomas as the cruel and narrow-minded headmaster, and Philip Jones, who plays the completely deranged school caretaker, Scoot.

Director Eric Hadley decided to set the play in the early '60s, which allows him to include many of the songs from the period. It works a treat, showing how the change in attitudes towards young people which Wedekind anticipated in 1895 became a reality in the Swinging Sixties. …