Erin Karll, Contributing Critic - St. Louis
The Q Collective is a new theatre company in St Louis. Their second production of the season is ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’ A perfect fit for the company focusing on the queer voice and lens in local theatre. In a time when trans people are facing more hatred and threats, it is vital to hear and support these stories.
‘Hedwig,’ played by Luke Steingruby, is a rock star and songwriter playing a small club while an ex-lover performs at an arena down the street. Childhood stories about life growing up in East Berlin Germany are weaved in between the ballads and anthems. A soldier stationed there fathered a child and left the family very quickly. Mother and child shared a small apartment where the armed forces radio station would give inspiration and a taste of American rock music. We hear the story of how Hansel became Hedwig, how she met her manager/ singing partner/ husband Yitzhak (played by Sarah Gene Dowling) and started playing with the band ‘The Angry Inch’ (Band members Holly Barber, J Michael, John Gerdes, and Joe Winters).
Standout songs were ‘origin of love’ and ‘sugar daddy.’ Both stunning crowd pleasers performed passionately by Steingruby. The journey from witty one-liners to emotional ballads and back again keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and grabbing for another drink. Dowling is funny, charming, and steals the spotlight, which is always pointed out and leads to more laughter. There is chemistry pouring off the stage between the Dowling and Steingruby.
The show is set more like a concert, and the venue provided by The Monocle fits the bill. So intimate and cozy the audience could quickly be brought into the show, and are on many occasions. The energy from the actors and the audience filled the place to the brim. There is no intermission, so be prepared. You will be spotted if you try to slip out in the middle.
I would recommend this show to those who feel a little left out, who love rock music, and those who want to have a great night out that also makes you think. The humor and heartache in the story are not soon forgotten. Enjoy a nice drink, see the beautiful costumes and wigs, and take the message of the show home with you.
‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ runs until June 29th at The Monocle in St. Louis Missouri. For show, ticket, or general information on this new company check out theqcollective.theater.