Brighton Fringe 2014
A Punk Rock musical about a girly boy from East Berlin, transported by her sugar daddy to the trailer parks of the USA, only to fall in love with a rock star who ‘took the good stuff and ran’.
The musical of Hedwig is probably up there amongst my top ten things ever, so I’m an enthusiastic audience member, but as I can run the original like a movie anytime I shut my eyes, companies putting on the show have a lot to live up to!
So I’m happy to report that last night I didn’t leave the New Venture Theatre disappointed by the performances I witnessed. What was hugely unfortunate (for the performers as much as the audience) was the technical problems they had with the sound. Something was terribly wrong with the radio mics, making all the loud notes painfully distorted, which was such a shame. The cast dealt with the problem as best they could, but as you can imagine, in this punk rock musical there were plenty of songs that suffered. However, it would be very unfair to write off the whole performance due to a technical hitch, so nuff said about dodgy sound and on to Hedwig herself…
The cast has two Hedwigs and two Yitzhaks and on the night I was there they were played by Jonny Parlett and Lou Preecy respectively. Hedwig was played as very fragile by Parlett; so seemingly unhinged that for the first ten minutes I wasn’t sure if it quite worked and if she would pull of the banter with the audience that is so intrinsic to the feel of the show. However, once the first couple of numbers were over, Parlett seemed to settle into the role, and I actually quite liked the vulnerability he projected through her. He also had good comic timing and none of the jokes fell flat (apart from those which were meant to.)
The whole production had a great energy, and the band supported with exactly the right amount of surly Eastern European resentment. They were excellent musicians, and my only comment would be that on the whole the sound was probably a little louder than it needed to be for the size of the space.
This production also incorporated some scenes between Tommy Gnossis and Hedwig, which aren’t strictly part of the stage play and had been borrowed from the film. These added a nice dimension to the second half, breaking up the format of Hedwig’s monologue and fleshing out the story. Ben Pritchard played Gnosis well, making a nice transition from the eager teenager, infatuated with his glamorous babysitter, to egotistical rock-star.
The ending of the show, where Hedwig comes completely undone was appropriately raw and rage filled, and the final number sung by Yitzhak was moving and heartfelt. Overall it was a great production, and I only hope they got the sound sorted for the final few performances.