Hedwig and the Angry Inch | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hedwig and the Angry Inch 

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Basing the character of Hedwig in part on a German trailer-park prostitute he'd befriended as an adolescent, writer-director-performer John Cameron Mitchell indelibly originated the role of the "internationally ignored song stylist" and transsexual whose "angry inch" is both his/her band and what remains of his penis after a botched operation. But as productions since the original off Broadway in 1998 have proved, Hedwig can also prosper without Mitchell. All that's needed is a good space, a great actor, a strong punk backup band--and she reemerges in all her glory, in trashy full drag, bad wig, and way too much makeup. This ragged little Elemental Theater Company production proves it again. From the moment Keith Stoneking stalks onstage, he seems utterly possessed by Hedwig, using his well-wrought body to spin her sorrowful tales of abandonment, abuse, and unrequited love. The shattering story is made all the more moving by Steven Trask's raw score and a supporting cast that's just as into it as Stoneking. Alexandra Goodman is especially intense as Hedwig's gender-bending partner and chief onstage competitor, Yitzhak. a Through 5/7: Fri-Sat 11:30 PM. No show 4/8-4/9. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. $18-$20.

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