Adapted from Wedekind's Spring Awaking by Tim Norton and Joanna Billington
Once again the excellent Young Pleasance has come up trumps with this scalding production of Rites: A Children’s Tragedy, skilfully adapted from Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, set in the late nineteenth century in Germany.
The powerful ensemble work is a joy to watch with striking images, accomplished choreography and impressive physical theatre.
Directors Jo Billington and Tim Norton have perfectly captured the essence of the novel in what is a riveting hour of drama laced with humour, pathos and a total understanding of teenagers. What is even more remarkable is that the company has achieved this high standard of performance in only six days of rehearsal.
It begins with the playfulness of innocent children's games and develops into an emerging sexual awareness of the young people as they discover their own identities with all the angst that adolescence brings.
The issues raised are timeless such as girls teasing boys, the discovery of puberty, the burgeoning dilemma of coming to terms with sexual identity; the constant debate about the purpose of school with the immense pressures to succeed and parents not understanding their offspring and children rebelling against the adults in their life.
But this is also a play about suicide, rape, pregnancy and homosexuality—quite a challenge for this young cast and they embrace it and perform with aplomb.
The acting from this talented company is so impressive but special mention should be given to Harry Kingdom playing the hard-working Morritz, Alex Maxwell as Melchior and Winnie Guy as Wendla.
Beautifully costumed and atmospherically lit this is youth theatre at its very best. Not to be missed.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp