By Jeanné McCartin
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is loud, funny and brutal. It’s also a satisfying piece of theater, thanks in large part to a stellar bit of casting by the Mad Men of Oopsy Daisy, Inc.
Mad Men has paired Jason Faria (Hedwig) with Alyssa Dumas (Yitzhak). It’s sort of Portsmouth’s Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, or Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, or jelly and peanut butter. The point is they are great together and create a special energy on stage. In the case of “Hedwig” (as so often in the Rep’s ’“Mad Haus” productions), the pair tears up the stage with emotional truth and stellar performances.
“Hedwig,” with book by John Cameron Mitchell, and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, is a genre-bending confessional piece, with heartbreaking ballads, rough and rude rock and a tough story. It’s also hilarious a lot of the time, and after twisting you in knots, will leave you breathing freely.
Hedwig is a “slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin,” needy, angry, cruel and deeply pained. We meet the entertainer, her band the Angry Inch, and back-up singer Yitzhak, performing in a less than desirable venue, within listening distance of star performer, in concert, who is a former lover Hedwig helped along the way.
The performer shares her life’s story in fourth-wall down monologues between songs. Her childhood in East Berlin was a poor and unhappy one, her only escape music. In her late teens, her American lover offers to take Hedwig back to the states if she agrees to a sex change. With added pressured from her mother to do so, she agrees. Things don’t go well; not then, not later.
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