Edinburgh Fringe Review #6: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hello again, and what a celebratory moment for my Edinburgh Fringe review writing as this marks the halfway point of my trip to Edinburgh. It’s also the 6th out of 12th show that I went to see, but this in no way means that this show was 6th rate at all. Let me stress once again, all of the shows that I was lucky enough to see at the Fringe were marvellous and you’d be doing a “frin-justice” to yourself if you were in Edinburgh and did not purchase a ticket to any of the shows that I saw. Anyway, before I start this review, just a tiny bit of narrative. So, after I went to see Rob Beckett, I then had a lovely walk over through the Royal Mile once again in the glorious dusk sunshine of Edinburgh. It only rained for 4 hours of my whole stay, which was mad! Very lucky indeed. The walk let me fully immerse myself in Edinburgh Festival culture once again, until I got to a Wetherspoons to meet up with my friend Adam from university and who I was living with in Edinburgh during my stay. Adam’s a lovely lad and it was great getting to spend time with him before we made our way over to the next show on our list, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

I was extremely excited to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as it’s a show that I’ve heard lots about for a while, yet had no clue of its plotline, songs or characters (apart from the infamous Hedwig, obviously, I love Neil Patrick Harris). But, to summarise the musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a genderqueer East German singer named Hedwig. Hedwig, formerly Hansel, assumes a female persona after a botched sex change operation which was performed to allow her to marry an American man and escape East Germany. The show is different from most Broadway musicals, in that it works better in an Off-Broadway venue, and this was no different to the production that I saw. As with most venues in Edinburgh, they are small, and there was no way that it could have been stretched onto a giant stage without the fear of potentially losing money in such a venture. However, the cosiness of the Greenside Theatre, just north of Princes Street worked an absolute treat! The show also has few characters, but this does not make the musical lack a complex plot-line, worthy of a Netflix series. The show sees Hedwig (played by Jake Benson), Yitzhak (played by Nadia Dawber), and the ‘Angry Inch’ played by Ollie, Joe, Alissa, Warren and Chris respectively. I’d put their actual character names but I have absolutely no idea what they are, or even if I did, how to spell them…

Hedwig 1

I’m extremely lucky to be such good friends with the cast already! Although the show is being played at the Fringe through ‘A Wicked Little Town’, they are all students at Warwick University, so I had already been hearing much about the rehearsal process and the Leamington Spa previews since the start of 2015. After following them on Twitter since the Twitter account started, I’d been seeing tiny little snippets, right down from the costumes to hearing little parts of songs. Even from these, I knew that the show was going to be excellent, and I was definitely not disappointed. In my opinion, I don’t think the talents of the cast members have fully been utilised during my time at University so far. I’ve always known them to be talented people, but the way in which they conveyed their character’s backstories and how we saw their ‘current presentation’ was mindblowing. As soon as you walk into the venue, you are immediately taken into a punk-rock scenario; diachronic to the fact that the show was actually taking place in a church! The audience then calmed down, and the show started.

All the guitar chords, all the drumming, all the piano-playing, all the fun. Even though the show was performed from 10pm-midnight, I thought I might be slightly tired from my lack of sleep during the trip thus far, but I was wide awake! As soon as Jake stepped on stage (or should I say sashayed?) the whole audience knew they were in for a treat. Jake presented Hedwig as a heartwarming character, full of life experiences that Hedwig just couldn’t wait to share with the audience. We were told about how he didn’t trust his past friend, and whenever you could hear their music playing, he walked off-stage and slammed the door. This was perfectly done, and could have only been done in a small venue such as this, I don’t think it would have worked anywhere else. Just a testament to the show’s directors and producers that they were able to add little nuances to really interpret Hedwig and the Angry Inch as their own.

Hedwig 2

Another element of the show that I cannot ignore was the technological side of the show. Throughout the whole show, there was a slideshow full of pictures. Similar to when I saw Births, Deaths and Marriages, the images allowed the audience to fully understand what was going on, taking away any traces of confusion. Nadia had told me before the show that I may not fully understand the show, as it’s kooky. But, I really did get it. Sort of. The visual aids really did assist me. In particular, I absolutely loved the use of photographs stitched together to give a flip-book effect in the song, ‘The Origin of Love’. This song was particularly poignant throughout the show, demonstrating from the offset that Hedwig is a multi-layered character and cannot just be taken at first glance.

The same can also be said for Yitzhak, Nadia was just awesome. Although her character was less in the limelight than Hedwig, this did not compromise her performance in any way at all. Whenever Hedwig asked Yitzhak to do something, Yitzhak was there hand and foot, always there for Hedwig. This just reflected the odd relationship between them, and the bizarre ideas discussed throughout the whole of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Their relationship also deteriorated throughout the show, something which Hedwig also did. As his character developed, Hedwig took off his clothes, with Jake ending up in just his underwear and smudged makeup; the makeup that was shown on social media. It was such a shame to see the makeup artist’s (Emily) work effectively ‘go to waste’ and get trashed. On the other side, we did get to see Nadia in a STUNNING glittery red dress, very Jessica Rabbit. Nadia is the next best talented Austrian next to Conchita Wurst. Except, Nadia is a lot more gorgeous!

Once the show was finished, I was gushing with praise, just like I am in this review! I couldn’t believe that my friends from university were just this talented. I must also praise their producer Cherry for being so level-headed throughout this entire process. The ‘wow’ nature of the show is a testament to how organised she is, and she as well as everyone in the entire cast should be very proud of themselves. I also cannot stress enough just how thankful I am to them for letting me be a lodger in a few nights in the ‘Hedwig House’. It was just so much fun, even if the walks were long (and sometimes unexpected, thanks Joe). To review this show, I’d use the crown emoji, because it’s definitely a crowning moment for all of the performers. Also, a king AND a queen can wear a crown, so it’s fully gender encompassing. Look at me go. And as for a song, I’m using ‘Sugar Daddy’ from the musical, performed by NPH. Delightful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnkTw73ZGtQ

Buy your tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch

Enjoy,

Sophie x

Why don’t you check out my last review, where I saw Rob Beckett, and my next review of Geoff Norcott?

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