Monday, January 6, 2020

Hedwig and the Angry Inch—Portland Center Stage—Pearl District

          Measure of a (Hu)man

    This classic, cult musical is written by John Cameron Mitchell, with music & lyrics by Stephen Trask and directed by Chip Miller.  Music Director, Amir Shirazi, with the band consisting of Darian Anthony Patrick, Maria Del Castillo, Jasmine Linee Wood and Nsayi Matingou.  It is playing at their space, 128 NW 11th Ave. at the Armory, through February 23rd.  For more information, go to their site at

    In reality, we are the most perfect of imperfect souls, as the intended function of our creation has only been surpassed by the idiocy of how we treat ourselves, our fellow creatures and the Earth!  We have constantly striven to ignore or thwart any attempts to survive in what once was, a “Paradise.”

    In biblical terms, if that is your cup of tea, we were given a perfect world and have since then striven to destroy it at every turn.  But, one little hiccup in that story, is that only one human was actually created, the male of the species, and the female was developed from his rib, and that has also been a point of contention ever since…and, in an odd way, part of the premise of this play.

    It is of a person, Hedwig (Delphon “DJ” Curtis Jr.), feeling there is something missing in his being, something left out of his creation as a person, another half that has gone dormant…and the story is, in part, his search to find that missing, vital element and become whole again.  And, so my missive, enfolds within this touching fable, this journey to reconnect with the fuller self, as may have been intended all along from Day One!

    Hedwig was a “military brat,” growing up in a small hovel with his mother in East Germany, when there was the infamous Wall (not unlike the equally infamous border Wall today here, only the former was to keep people in, the latter one, to keep people out).  He found some solace in a friendly, security person and enlarged his understanding of who he was.  Eventually settling in the mid-West here, he grew even more, joining a rock band, becoming an entertainer and marrying his current partner, Yitzhak (Ithica Tell).

    He tells his story through a narrative style and in song, detailing the ups and downs of discovering the being within.  The style of music and storytelling is not unlike the equally explosive cult classic, The Rocky Horror Show, as they are both searching for Love and their own essence.  As to the success of his mission, you’ll just have to see it.  But, at its heart, it does speak to anyone that is searching for relevance and their purpose in the scheme of things.

    Curtis is fantastic and, with their band of renown and Tell, is the glue that holds the production together.  Hedwig is a very complex character, both musically and as a person, but Curtis is very believable and is a terrific entertainer, as well.  But I do object that the setting seems to stifle the performances, as the set is crowded with tables and audience members, in order to simulate a cabaret-type of atmosphere, I assume, but it does restrict the actor’s movements, and the amazing band is partially hidden by set pieces.  Also, modern references in a story that obviously takes place some years ago, really doesn’t work.

    I recommend this show for the performances and underlying story but, be warned, it is very adult material.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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