hedwig and the angry inch by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, directed by Jim Millan, with Ted Dykstra, Selina Martin and Moe Berg. Presented by Crow's Theatre, House of Blues and Cartwright at Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst). Indefinite run, Monday-Thursday and Saturday 8:30 pm, Friday 7 and 10 pm. $19-$35. 416-870-8000. Rating: NN
if this is david bowie's favourite
rock musical, the genre is in trouble.
For starters, Hedwig And The Angry Inch isn't a rock musical at all. It's a monologue backed up by a couple of songs that's intended to replicate a rock concert. If it were a musical, we'd be able to hear the tunes and someone -- like maybe director Jim Millan -- might have choreographed something for the backup band led, heroically under the circumstances (what in god's name are they all wearing?), by Moe Berg.
And if it were a piece of theatre at all, it would have a story with a through-line. As it is, Hedwig, born in the hopelessly divided city of Berlin, becomes a split-gendered personality aided by a botched sex-change operation that's left her crotch with only the angry inch of the title. Spirited away to America, she sets out to become a glam-rock star.
But this is only the premise, and once Hedwig states it early on, almost nothing happens. A subplot about a band member with his own gender issues winds up being more important than its set-up deserves, and Hedwig's lost relationship with a successful rock star never matters. Text projected to the back of the stage confuses things.
There is actually a great performance buried in here. Ted Dykstra's decision to play Hedwig as a guy uncomfortable in a dress rather than as a fabulous drag queen stays true to the character -- this is, after all, no happy trannie but someone who undergoes a sex change against her will. But given that most of the song lyrics are inaudible and the arc of the narrative nonexistent, Dykstra doesn't come across as a gender-bent loser. He just looks like he didn't have enough rehearsal time to get comfortable in the shoes.