Having not heard of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (apart from a reference to it in Netflix’s Sex Education series 1. I did not know what to expect. So, like usual when faced with this situation I head to Google and Wiki to find out some more information , which led me to believe that I was going to a Glam Rock 70s style Musical.
Nothing wrong with that. However, with an open mind, and knowing the talents of Davina Da Campo already from her work in Dancing Bear, (also directed by Jamie Fletcher) I quickly found that this was not going to be the case. The Angry Inch Band, who whilst appearing centre stage throughout the performance made it feel as much a concert as a Musical Show, skillfully performed blues, pop, rock, ballads and funk. In fact the premise of the show is that we the audience, is the audience in Hedwig’s show in Richmond; the interactions with the audience from the beginning, by the band, Hedwig and Itsak (Hedwig’s husband) in clapping along, encouraging singing and in talking directly to us, made us feel all the more involved in the story particularly as we head towards the poignant ending.
Hedwig’s quick witted innuendos and puns from the start, delivered superbly by Davina (although a little hard to hear over the band on occasion), had us laughing along with her. The story she tells is autobiographical, and monologues are punctuated with songs telling of her life in East Berlin, and subsequent move to America as a GI bride, but as the show ,( and her story) progresses we witness a development and depth to her character which captivates and moves us (“I cry because otherwise I would laugh”.)
The use of nostalgic props from the era of the story: OHP , cassette tape, radio with a huge arial, telephone on the wall, worked well, and the use of 9 screens on the wall, used for lyrics, graphics to depict some of the songs, old photos from the news bulletins, amongst other things, helped to draw us into the authenticity of the story. Playing a song on the ‘radio’ and then the music seamlessly being joined by the band was cleverly and masterfully done and the talents of the musicians and singers shone through. The harmonies between Davina as Hedwig and __________ as Itzak blended beautifully (as well as the rest of the multi instrumentalists in the band) and it was also good to hear a solo from him at the end too. The guitar solos and vocal strength from the cast showed the talent of the musicians on stage.
Davina made this show her own ; her vocal strength was outstanding, enabling her to bring out Hedwig’s character powerfully, and it made for both a thought provoking and enjoyable evening.