Photo Credit: Richard Campbell

Photo Credit: Richard Campbell

Photo Credit: Richard Campbell

Photo Credit: Richard Campbell

Spring Awakening


October 2010

Performed in Traverse One, on a set created entirely with chalk, blackboards and school desks, Douglas Maxwell’s short sharp shock adaptation of Wedekind’s favourite play marked a rare return for Grid Iron to the stage.

An outstanding ensemble cast of Scottish actors including Gavin Marshall, Finn den Hertog, Gail Watson, Gavin Wright and Angela Hardie created a dark and disturbing rendering of the story of the crushing of teenage sexuality, relocated to late nineteenth century Calvinist Scotland.

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

Ben Harrison’s fine new production for Grid Iron and the Traverse, based on a new version of the text by Douglas Maxwell, does full justice to the play’s free-flowing, intensely physical form, as the eight-strong cast rush from scene to scene on Ali Maclaurin’s complex set, which opens out from schoolroom to an art-nouveau-inflected emotional landscape…his [Harrison’s] passion for the play draws a series of superb performances from his young cast.

The List

A fresh, creative and relevant new adaptation that keeps the action in its original fin-de-si ècle moment, but moves it from Germany to Calvinist Scotland… Rather than dragging this story kicking and screaming into the present day (or filling it with oddly anachronistic and trite alt.rock anthems for that matter), Maxwell and Grid Iron have left it kicking and screaming in its original context, well aware that the petulance and lust of adolescence never goes out of date.

Mark Fisher, The Guardian

In a rare departure from site-specific performance, Harrison brings the kind of actor-centred resourcefulness for which Communicado was once famed. The first-rate cast turn desks into a pack of howling dogs, creates props by drawing chalk lines on the stage and uses blackboards to suggest everything from wealons to wanking. There is a cheeky, understated wit at work…As Philip Pinsky’s score swings from pretty melodies to ominous rumbles, the production pulls us from amusement to concern, taking us confidently towards the supernatural conclusion. Staged without an interval, the play reveals its shocking modernity even as it describes a bygone era, capturing the head-versus-heart tension that occupies us still when private desire meets social decorum.

Neil Cooper, The Herald

Director Ben Harrison may have located the action to a conventional theatre in this co-production with the Traverse, but Grid Iron’s site-specific hallmarks are very much in evidence in an expansively three-dimensional production.

Robert Dawson Scott, The Times

Part of the pleasure of Ben Harrison’s fluid and supple production is how tactfully it deals with all these extremes, in some cases wittily, in others sensitively. It is all of a piece with the inventive staging, largely defined by the black and white of chalk on a blackboard, that that a black wall, a floor or a slate in a classroom.