Review- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Leeds Playhouse

If, like me, you came to this show without the benefit of seeing John Cameron Mitchell's original 1990s stage production or the 2001 musical film, it’s a real eye-opener.

By Julie Marshall
Friday, 8th April 2022, 9:42 am
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 9:44 am
Divina De Campo (Hedwig).
Divina De Campo (Hedwig).

It’s funny, sad and hugely enjoyable and tells the story of Hansel, a German youth coming to terms with his sexuality while trapped behind the Berlin Wall. He is so desperate to escape he agrees to a gender realignment operation to pose as a woman and marry an American GI.

The operation is botched and Hansel, now Hedwig, is left with only an ‘angry inch’ and a life in America that is not what was promised. She is dumped in a trailer park and her husband leaves her after a year.

Perched at the side of the stage, Hedwig tells her story in a series of flashbacks. Divina De Campo inhabits the role that she surely will be forever remembered for.

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Divina De Campo (Hedwig) and Elijah Ferreira (Yitzhak) with Frances Bolley, Isis Dunthorne, and Jess Williams (The Angry Inch Band).

Her dramatic entrance from the back of the auditorium, complete with ostentatious stars and stripes cape that opens to reveal the slogan Gender is a Construct sets the scene and revs the audience up to a frenzy that never really abates. They couldn’t get enough of her charismatic performance and a standing ovation was guaranteed.

Stephen Trask's music from the four-piece band is strident and raw, reminiscent of the early days of American punk rock and his lyrics are clever and relevant to the narrative.

De Campo’s vocal range is huge and her stage presence is mesmerising. With impeccable comic timing and lots of innuendo-ridden one-liners, her performance is camp without being caricatured.

The subtle nuances in the script which reveal the vulnerability of the character and her desire to be accepted by the men in her life are poignant.

Elijah Ferreira as Hedwig’s husband and tour manager Yitzhak is sweet and funny and his wide-mouthed smile and twinkling eyes help establish a real connection and chemistry between the pair.

Director Jamie Fletcher has brought this 1990s almost forgotten musical to a modern audience, it’s just a shame it has taken so long.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is at Leeds Playhouse until 23 April.

To book: leedsplayhouse.org.uk or 0113 213 7700.

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