Issues of plagiarism, Eastern bloc transsexuals, mutilated genitalia, and the importance of wigs in a girl's life are just a few of the subjects covered in this glittery adaptation of a cult off-Broadway musical. And its off-kilter originality makes a welcome change from the summer's CGI dinosaur or tomb raiding behemoths.
The eponymous Hedwig (Mitchell) was once an East German boy devoted to rock music and brought up with Plato's theory that all humans are split from their other halves. As a teenager he meets a GI who urges him to have a sex change operation so that they can be married and live in America. The operation is botched though, leaving Hedwig with an 'angry inch' instead of genitalia, and her husband runs off with another boy on arrival in Kansas. Angry, hurt, and looking for love, Hedwig forms a band and belts out the story of her life to bemused diners in various seafood restaurants.
A cross between "Velvet Goldmine" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Hedwig" is simultaneously brash and crude, mythical, and touching as it parallels the division of Eastern Europe with the tribulations of its be-wigged protagonist and her search for identity.
Sashaying a fine line between pathos and panto, Mitchell's "Hedwig" is fragile and tragic as well as magnificently bolshy and funny - a neo-Dietrich languidly pouring out her heart through Stephen Trask's witty, acidic songs.
Put together by a load of first-timers for a paltry $6million, this is a spectacular, intoxicating smack in the mouth for big budget, big-star tat. Superb.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is released in the UK on Friday 31st August 2001.