Thursday, 7 September 2006

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Sept 7, 2006

 Hedwig and the Angry Inch
By Text John Cameron Mitchell Music & Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Athenaeum Theatre 1
Sept 7 to  17, 2006
Tues to Thurs 8pm, Fri & Sat 7.30pm & 10.30pm Sun 5pm
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is both a gut-busting rock show and a journey of self-discovery. The star of the story, played by the androgenous Iota, is Hedwig, the transexual drag queen previously known as Hansel Schmidt.

Hedwig grew up in East Berlin with a po-faced German mother and an absent father. By his teen years he was seduced by a wholesome American GI, who insisted Hansel have a sex change so they could marry and move to the US.

But the plan goes horribly wrong when the operation leaves Hedwig with only an angry inch of his manhood intact and no female genitalia to replace it, neither man nor woman.

The stage show is a rock concert with really raunchy songs sung by the extraordinarily talented Iota. His voice is huge, his performance bold and his portrayal of the damaged and furious Hedwig is, by turn, hilarious and poignant, vulnerable and outrageous. It is Glam Rock that harks back to the 80s.

John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote and performed the role, and his musical collaborator, Stephen Trask, were nominated for awards galore for Mitchell’s performance, the script and music.

The live band, led by Musical Director, Tina Harris fills the Athenaeum with a series of hot songs. Iota is joined on stage by an underused Blazey Best, playing Yitzak, Hedwig’s beleaguered husband.

Iota’s voice is explosive and versatile. He can belt out a rock number as well as a power ballad. He opens the show with Tear Me Down, a song about both the Berlin Wall and Hedwig’s own shattered ego.

He follows with the slower, Origin of Love, in which Hedwig dreams of his other half, the potential lover who will complete him. In The Angry Inch, Iota drives home a beefy rock tune.

Hedwig was soundly dumped by her own creation, Johnny Gnosis, a teenager who made it big as a rock star by singing all of Hedwig’s songs. Johnny, Hedwig believed, was her destiny, the one to complete her.

But the simple philosophical resolution to the story is that Hedwig strips off her platinum wig, her trashy dress and boots and false eyelashes to be revealed and reborn as the boy he was, in the likeness of Johnny Gnosis. He sings Wicked Little Town and Midnight Radio. Let’s not be too sentimental about this, but Hedwig has come home and found herself – her own true love.

By Kate Herbert

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