The Ohio State Department of Theatre’s production of “Spring Awakening” delivered a convincing performance, but at times left some audience members confused.
It seemed the play’s main focus was to address all aspects of the taboo topic of sex and youth in industrial Germany. This was done through the use of a long dialogue during which a young boy masturbates in front of the entire audience, a rape scene and the unplanned pregnancy of a 14-year-old girl.
Emily Mills’ performance as Mrs. Gabor, a loving and protective mother, was convincing and far better than expected from a student actress. During a scene in which she argued with her husband over the fate of their son, Mills’ emotion as she delivered dialogue stole the show.
Mills’ emotional character, accompanied with the comedic relief of John O.S. Houston as Fetch and Zacharey Owens as Headmaster Hart-Payne, kept the audience’s attention and gave colorful background to the more serious topics shown.
Things became confusing for me, however, when German industrial rock music was played during scene changes. Loud rock music blared as the stage went dark at the end of a rape scene and later, after a suicide.
This was slightly off-putting and almost comedic. The music did not fit the serious tone of the play and resulted in many confused comments from the audience. Audience member Tyler Mitchell summed it up best when he said the music “kept interrupting from the feel of the show.”
The camera work that accompanied the play and strange music was well-done and added a more professional element. Student actors and actresses crouched on the edges of the stage manned hand-held cameras during the scenes they did not participate in. The images they filmed were projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. This gave audience members the opportunity to see the expressions of the characters up close, providing a more intimate view into the characters’ problems.
Overall, the acting was well-done and the visual additions were successful, but perhaps less rock music would have resulted in a better version of an already-successful play.