Teenage anguish comes alive in ‘Spring’s Awakening’

By Danielle Mohlman

Shades of green and yellow lit the Main Stage Theatre at Cal
Poly as 23 actors played the roles of teachers, parents and, most
notably, 14- and 15-year-old students in “Spring’s Awakening” last
weekend.

The three-hour production was engrossing from the opening scene
to the curtain call and featured Devin Silva as Wendla Bergman,
Alex Fossgreen as Melchior Gabor, and Dylan-Mark Wallace as Moritz
Stiefel.

Sexuality, masturbation, school and societal pressures,
pregnancy, child abuse, and suicide were all themes of Frank
Wedekind’s “Spring’s Awakening.” Despite the 1891 text, the issues
presented throughout were relevant to society today.

Though the play does not draw attention to it, the adult
characters participate in the very actions they reprimand. It is a
combination of this tragedy and their unwillingness to talk to
their children truthfully that leads to the anguish these teenagers
feel.

The scenes between Fossgreen and Wallace offered teenage
philosophy partnered with quizzical brows and a friendship dynamic.
Together the two actors effectively communicated the curiosity of
teenage sexuality.

Individually, Wallace and Fossgreen delivered enthralling
monologues throughout the play.

Sara Denise was comical as the innocent and bubbly Thea. Her
witty and intentionally over-the-top delivery of her lines gave the
audience momentary relief from the dark themes.

Silva as Wendla experienced an array of emotions which ranged
from pure na’vete to immense sadness. The family dynamic depicted
between Silva and Nicole Herman, who played her mother, Mrs.
Bergman, was sometimes funny and serious, but always very real.

The characters of the professors were wonderfully exaggerated.
Catchemquick, played by Roxanne Harrison, led with her stomach as
she walked. Frau Rektor Sunstroke, played by Marissa Pitts, spoke
with a megaphone. Stickytongue, played by Tracy Miller, spoke with
a stutter.

The performance incorporated popular rock songs, such as “Youth
of the Nation” by P.O.D. and “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by The
Offspring, to set the tone of the play.

The set was contemporary and minimalist, with six plastic chairs
reminiscent of a fast food restaurant on one side of the stage and
a couch next to a chaise lounge in the opposite area. Two benches
were placed on either side of the downstage space. The rest was
left up to the imagination of the audience.

A large screen hung in the back portion of the stage, projecting
subtle images that complemented the scenes being portrayed.

“I thought it was well done,” said James Doran, a third-year
civil engineering student. “Obviously, it’s a difficult subject to
address, but they did it justice. I liked that they did the modern
casting and dress with the original script.”

Doran was familiar with the text before he saw the play and said
the actors were effective in delivering the lines and gestures.

“Spring’s Awakening” will continue with performances May 15-17
at 8 p.m. and May 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students,
faculty and staff and $15 general admission.

Teenage anguish comes alive in

Timothy Quintana/Poly Post

Teenage anguish comes alive in ‘Spring’s Awakening’

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