Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Gordon and I went to Hollywood last night to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Pantages. We stopped at Delphine’s in W Hotel across the street from the theater first for a glass of wine and a snack. CNN showing the anti-Trump protesters was on one channel and a basketball game on the other. Unfortunately, we got stuck facing CNN. The earnest reporter was describing how ‘protesters’ in Oakland had broken windows at the Oakland Tribune. And I thought, “How stupid!” The Trib was an ardent Hillary supporter and defender. I guess there’s no Fox affiliate in Oakland. The bartenders were discussing the election at the other end of the bar and they were commenting that Hillary was the only qualified person to be president. That reminded me of talking to people in Jamaica: the beggar was a communist, the bartender was a socialist, and the car rental owner was a capitalist. People are the same the world over. We talked with other theater patrons at the bar. One couple (looked to be in their 70s) said they got season tickets just to get Hamilton tickets and didn’t know what to expect from Hedwig. I told them I knew it was a rock musical and that I’d brought earplugs. We all finished up and left.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about a young East German man (Hedwig) who falls in love with an American soldier but can’t marry until he has a sex change. Of course, he doesn’t have any money so he goes to a “guy” who botches the surgery. He doesn’t get a vagina and is left with only a stub of a penis((the ‘inch’ of the title)–the worst of both worlds. But he marries his soldier and comes to America. There, Hedwig is divorced by the soldier and abandoned in a trailer park. He works as a nanny (at this point I don’t know if Hedwig is considered a transgender or a tranvestite–which is the least of my confusion). The young man that Hedwig cares for steals Hedwig’s music–or maybe they wrote it together and Hedwig just wants writer’s credit–and becomes a rock star. Hedwig has his/her own band (the Angry Inch) who backs up all the music of the show. At the end, Hedwig becomes the young rock star so this may have been the fantasy of a confused transgender. I know I was confused. The script included a lot of topical humor. I knew they’d make fun of Trump; making fun of Republicans is a given in the theater these days. What surprised me was they also made fun of Hillary which caused gasps. Hedwig smiled coyly and said, “Too soon?” Maybe they were trying to keep the orchestra section happy. I appreciated the attempt at non-partisanship.

Darren Criss played Hedwig and he’s a wonderful singer/dancer/actor. Apparently, he was on Glee so he had a following of kiddies in the balcony who cheered everything he did. Lena Hall played Yitzhak, the frontman for the Angry Inch. She has an incredible voice. I read in the program that she plays Hedwig at some performances–talk about twisting gender identity! A woman playing a man playing a woman. I thought the performances were wonderful but I couldn’t follow the book. The effects were interesting but I almost had a gran mal seizure from the light strobing. The music was loud, of course, but Gordon managed to sleep through it anyway. And that says a lot; the show didn’t pass the snore test. I wondered why there wasn’t an intermission; I suspect they would have lost a lot of audience members. I can’t say I enjoyed the book or the music but the actors and staging were great. I guess that’s damning with faint praise. See above comment about snore test. I was a little surprised at the curtain call when Criss grabbed Hall and gave her a big kiss. That’s not the usual thing. But Hall is lovely and has beautiful long legs so I can understand the impulse. Maybe Criss was just trying to show that he was straight (“I just play gay on tv”). And may he was trying to discourage the stage door johnnies. He’s a good-lookin’, super-talented young fella so I imagine he has 3/4 of the population after his…butt (trying to stay PG). Note: We saw the couple in their 70s on the way out and we asked them how they liked it. The man said, “Well, it was different.” That it was.

We had a straight shot driving home until our exit. A CHP in front of us started slowing traffic and freeway exits were closed. When we got home we saw on the news that the 101 had been shut down. Anti-Trump protesters had mobbed the freeway. Thank God we got off when we did; we’d have been stuck on the freeway for hours. I think Sartre wrote a play about that: No Exit. And that could have been a disaster; I had to pee. I had to laugh at the protesters. Some of them stripped down and were running around naked. Well, it was a warm night. What really amused me was they defaced the LA Times building and city hall; both institutions were staunch Hillary supporters. The protesters must be really stupid; they’re tearing up their own cities, places where Hillary won. Talk about fouling your own nest. Oh well, they give the media something to cluck over. It was kind of a strange night.

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About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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