Monday, February 19, 2007

Wasted day, feeling wasted?

Pieroth wines

Actually, Sunday wasn't a wasted day at all, but I didn't get much done from my original list of things "to do".

It was a glorious day to be on the Harbour, specifically the floating Sydney Harbour Ballroom, for the free annual Pieroth wine tasting and harbour cruise. A very relaxing, informative day, spent with three work colleagues and three Star Trek colleagues, soaking up as much wine as our palates would allow, and putting my order in for my semi-annual splurge on wine. Damn those trains, though; how come every weekend I want to travel into the CBD the trains are out for track maintenance?

Our cruise was booked for 2pm, but us Westies had to leave Penrith by 11am to guarantee finding somewhere for lunch first. Never a good idea to go wine tasting on an empty stomach (like last year). Sight of the day was AdamJ and SJ sprinting along Cockle Bay towards the ferry at 1.59 pm! For a moment there, we thought Adam was planning a giant leap across a watery expanse between two jetties. (Reminded me of a cross between The Six Million Dollar Man and the Long-Jumping Jeweller from Lavender Bay.)

We finished off with scrummy potato wedges at Cargo Bar, turning last year's accidental discovery (when searching for food to soak up the excess wine) into a tradition. And then a looooong walk back towards Central Station to get the rail bus home (and of course, it backtracked our trail all the way back to Wynyard, so we coulda saved time by walking the opposite direction in the first place).

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I got home too pooped to write my review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as I'd originally planned. This (rather loud) musical was a very enjoyable Friday night's entertainment. Set against the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is highly reminiscent of Reg Livermore's Betty Blokk Buster, several characters from the "Rocky Horror Show", David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", and the bizarre rock 'n' roll science fiction stage musical, "Return to the Forbidden Planet" - even featuring "Return"'s own Tina Harris (as Hedwig's musical director and keyboard player)!

Where "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was a comic tragedy, "Hedwig" is probably more of a tragic comedy. Young Hansel, an oppressed, androgynous boy from East Berlin, gets an unexpected opportunity to escape with an American GI - but only if he undergoes a sex change operation. The botched operation - the "angry inch" of the title - is the start of yet another set of terrible circumstances in "her" life, as the newly-bewigged Hedwig (played by iOTA) ends up in a US trailer park with no husband and no prospects. Life takes a temporary turn for the better when Hedwig finds success in music - and meets her "other half" in life, the intense and sweaty rock singer, Tommy Gnosis.

I've heard that the film version of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" has one actor playing Hedwig and another playing Gnosis, but in the stage version, the versatile iOTA portrays both "halves", with a dramatically monochromatic lightshow bridging the transformation. I'm assuming the film covers a slightly different set of themes at this point. The message that came through strongly for me, at this climactic switch of scene, was the ambiguity of whether we'd been watching only one person's story unfold here, or two.

Favourite line: Hedwig introduces her band's drummer, Dave Hatch: "You have to admire someone who bangs on things for a living."

I also liked Hedwig's thank you to Tom Mann, whom she assumes wanted to celebrate his fondness for white Toblerone chocolate and ancient Egyptian pyramids by decorating his theatre appropriately. The audience glanced up, as one, to notice a ceiling covered with large, accoustical, white, Toblerone-like pyramids!

The musical grants us yet another transformation, with Saskia Smith's Yitzhak: one more troubled character caught between genders and society's expectations. As much as I loved "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", we did lose Frankenfurter, Eddie and Rocky in that. "Hedwig" is, in many ways, so much more uplifting. Now that my ears have recovered, I must get around to playing the CD I bought of its showtunes.

Berlin Wall souvenir of 1990
My friend Linda brought me back this souvenir of the Berlin Wall in 1990. She collected the pieces herself. I wondered if I'd ever have an excuse to share it online.

1 comment:

The Other Andrew said...

You should definately catch the film version of Hedwig, it fleshes out the story well. I think it works well having the same actor play Hedwig and Tommy Gnosis, it reinforces the Plato based philosophy of the song "The Origin Of Love". That we are looking for the other half of our original being. The film muddies this a bit by having a different actor, but it works better cinematically.