NAME: Spring Awakening
AGE: Theater Emory's production marks the 100th anniversary of the 1906 debut performance of the play by Germany's Frank Wedekind, who wrote the script in 1891.
THE GIST: In 1892 in a small German town, the mutual attraction of two young people (Stephanie Bruno and Nathan R. Green) and the self-destructive thoughts of a third (Chase Hyder) have disastrous consequences in an atmosphere of intense academic pressure, raging hormones and the repressive attitudes of the adults.
UNIVERSAL THEMES: Young people from any era can relate to Spring Awakening's candid treatment of love, sex and monstrously oppressive parents. University students play the teenage characters, although professional Atlanta actors such as Park Krausen portray the major grown-up roles.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Spring Awakening kicked up controversy for its frank approach to sexuality and suicide, captured in an earthy translation by Carl R. Mueller. Wedekind also broke ground by writing realistic scenes that give way to unexpected intrusions of the supernatural. The fascinating final sequence features an unexpected, cleverly performed headless ghost.
DATED QUALITIES: Compared with today's sex-obsessed pop culture, it's peculiar to see such desperately clueless young people and tight-lipped adults regarding the facts of life (although one lad's obsession with erotic artwork anticipates the pornographic JPEGs of today). The ignorance and innocence seem as antiquated as the schoolboys' black berets and knee breeches, but also enhances the poignant quality of the show.
POST-MODERN CONCEPTS: The production includes slide-show projections of nature photos, anatomical drawings and classical erotic artwork. Female actors play minor male roles and the production puts more explicit emphasis on homoeroticism than the playwright might have expected. The second act features live video close-ups of Headmaster Sunstroke (Marc McPherson), an amusing touch that nevertheless makes a broadly satirical scene even more heavy-handed.
BACKSTAGE NOTES: Spring Awakening marks the first Theater Emory show directed by Emory professor and veteran Atlanta actor Tim McDonough since he took over for Vinnie Murphy as the company's artistic director.
WORTHY OF REVIVAL?: Very much so, since Spring Awakening has all the relevance of and far more maturity than, say, an episode of "The OC" But it also could use some serious tightening, with some speeches going on for so long that you'll regrettably think, "So kill yourself, already."
Spring Awakening. Through Sun., Nov. 19. $6-$15. Wed.-Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m. Theater Emory, Munroe Theater, Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle. 404-727-5050. www.theater.emory.edu.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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