I did not expect such a rollercoaster.
I knew about the show because the Broadway run was spearheaded by one Neil Patrick Harris, a performer and human being that I very much admire. As a result, I had heard the glam rock music and had reveled in the sensual weirdness of the David Bowie-inspired rock and roll. What I was not ready for was the raw, vulnerable story of heartache being poured out onto stage amongst copious amounts of sarcasm and innuendo.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a spectacular piece of theatre not because of the electric guitar, or the make up or the wigs. But rather because of the intimacy in the theatre. It’s a brilliantly innovative musical which tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage - in a way that makes you feel completed invested in her story.
We were lucky enough to be sitting in the very front row and one of my friends put it very well when she said that when sitting in the front row, you get lost in what’s happening because you aren’t as aware of the other people around you in the theatre. You don’t feel as self-conscious about whether you’re laughing or crying, or whether your jaw is gaping to the floor. You just lose yourself in that suspension of disbelief. But I think that this is a show that delivers that immersive quality regardless of seat selection.
It’s an emotional ride through the journey of the aspiring starlet Hedwig who loses everything (and I mean everything) along the way. This endearingly tragic character is played by Paul du Toit who displays an incredible amount of emotional range as he embodies the soul of this East-Berlin transgender singer. He is wonderfully supported by the delightful Genna Galloway whose vocal range astonished me in the role of Yitzhak.
The show speaks to freedom of love, speech and identity, broaching many hot-button issues without preaching. It does it by showing a broken love story between human beings who are trying to figure out who they are and who they are meant to be with, in a world that tries to beat them down at every turn. As you envelop yourself in their story, you forget the labels - and rediscover a common humanity - a piece of you perhaps.
We all look for someone else to complete us, to fill the gaps in our spirit and make us whole. But that’s simply asking too much of another human being. In order to be whole or complete, we must find it within ourselves, and that’s what this show does so well. I’m so glad a show like this can play here in South Africa and I really hope that we can take a little bit of the magic and apply to our own everyday lives - to be more compassionate, to love a little deeper and to express ourselves truthfully and authentically.
Life is too short to pretend we are someone else.