By Paul T Davies

I imagine there’s a mantelpiece somewhere that is laden with the awards Mad Hatter has won.

If it exists, more space will need to be cleared for the awards coming their way for this powerful, superbly executed production of one of the best modern musicals, Spring Awakening.

Based on the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, the musical focuses on late 19th century German teenagers, struggling with hormones, ignorance, the tyranny of parents and school and abuse. Their sexual and political awakenings are suppressed and controlled by the ruling ideology.

It’s pretty intense material, but Will Mugford’s sensitive and focused direction brings the humour and the tragedy of the piece out at an appropriate pace, creating a very moving second half. The ensemble is terrific and there isn’t a weak link in the cast. Making their Mad Hatter debuts are Charlie Toland as Melchior, the revolutionary of the group, and Cerys Wilkin as Wendla, both excellent vocally and acting wise. I wish I have space to name check every performer, but particular applause should go to Alfie De Brito and Josh Tarrier, who portrayed same sex love so sensitively, and it was good to see gay characters survive to the end of the production. Dermot Gillespie-Gardiner almost stole the show as the tortured Moritz and Yaz Sharp was, as usual, mesmerising as the abused Martha. Although this is a youthful show, Grant Borroff and Jenni Horn were excellent in all of the adult roles.

The band, led by musical director Olly Wood, rocked the house brilliantly and the choreography by Ellie Mellor Hine conveyed a range of emotions very well. The whole production was beautifully sung, particularly The Word of Your Body.

It’s no wonder every Mad Hatter show sells out, when every member of the company leaves their heart and soul on stage like this. Never miss them.