When? : Thursday 28th May
*some mild spoilers*
*some mild spoilers*
I actually was blissfully unaware when I booked this show that it was based on a cult film. I booked based on the amazing reviews, the fact it seemed off-beat and original, not to mention a stream of high profile theatre performers jumping at the chance to perform in that title role. I happened to be checking out the soundtrack and a (non theatrical) friend started singing along and told me it was one of her boyfriend's favourite films.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a punk-rock musical written by original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell and music by Stephen Trask. It is a relatively short show in comparison to others on Broadway and doesn't have an intermission. This, combined with the grungy set gives the feeling of being in some run-down venue watching a rock-cabaret show.
Over an hour and a half, Hedwig's story unfolds - it's initially bold, brash and down-right dirty (prepare for much debauchery and face-licking) but as the narrative progresses, a murkier, heartbreaking tale emerges, giving context to the character we are presented with.
Darren Criss is surprising in this role, granted I had only seen him in the TV show "Glee" as a much different character - squeaky clean and privileged. Hedwig is the antithesis to this. Criss gets to show off a range and depth of his acting skills, from the big, loud and outrageous to small and vulnerable.
More like a play with musical support, than a musical as such. There's a depth to this production, with many layers to uncover - in Hedwig's case, literally as well as figuratively - as the play progresses layers come off the not only the person but the persona as well, revealing the raw, damaged man beneath.
In a way, the story belongs as much Hedwig's husband, backing-singer, roadie and sidekick "Yitzhak" (played by Rebecca Naomi Jones) - a female-to-male transgender, whose character is revealed without him even needing to speak many words; Repressed and pushed to the background, yet tirelessly, thanklessly running around after Hedwig, tidying up the messes she leaves behind. As Hedwig descends and re-emerges as Hansel, Yitzhak rises and emerges as a female, stepping into the vacant spotlight usually occupied by Hedwig.
There is so much else I could say about this show and I feel like this is scratching the surface. It's so different to any of the musicals out there right now and I'm excited to hear, through the rumour mill, it may be coming to the West End soon. This could be just the tonic our theatre scene has been thirsting for.
For further information, or to book tickets to the Broadway show, please visit the official website http://hedwigbroadway.com/
Writing this review, I often found myself confused as to which pronoun to use - him or her? Gender is such a complicated issue in this show as both characters identify as both male and female during those intense 90 minutes. I decided to use the pronoun relating to the gender they identified with for most of the show.
I came across this blog post which I found quite an interesting read and looks more in depth into this aspect:-