Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival and David M. Hawkins
Reviewed 22 June 2018
The Adelaide Festival Theatre and Adelaide Cabaret Festival welcomed John Cameron Mitchell for the world premiere of his new show The Origin of Love.
Mitchell has spent two decades with the character Hedwig, a creation built around his own experiences and those potentially connecting to other characters in the Hedwig’s world. His time spent with Hedwig hits the stage in an intimate set of personal stories around the evolution of the character and songs from the Broadway and film musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
The gender punk character comes alive on stage without losing the industrial edge from the clubs where Hedwig originated. The stories cover the birth of Hedwig as an East Berlin child who is later coerced into a botched gender surgery in order to be able to marry an American soldier and leave for a new life. Once arriving in the new country Hedwig is abandoned and forced to find a way through.
The Origin of Love mingles the famous works from the musical with several new songs from Mitchell’s forthcoming production. The insight into the new works draws strong links between Mitchell’s new and old work. The fascinating stories joyfully intertwine all the pieces together in a tribute to the progression of characters, stories, and songs.
Mitchell’s iconic voice and presence on stage is a pleasure to watch. The fascinating details behind the creation of powerful characters presented the lifelong development and how the personal become part of such a unique show. Mitchell’s performing experience is on full show in the casual banter and the commanding nature he maintains while connecting through tales and songs.
The Origin of Love is an openhearted production that remains accessible to new audiences while maintaining the integrity and the passion of songs and tales. Mitchell and his band, featuring Amber Martin on vocals, were incredibly laid back and relaxed on stage even through the teething issues of the first show, which provided for a delightful set that at times felt like an invite behind the scenes of a close knit family production.
The craft behind the show comes across strong in the details of the costuming. The single costume designed by Erik Bergrin takes on multiple forms throughout the show as the layers are peeled away. The costume contains construction and colour nods to the early Hedwig outfits. The Origin of Love’s costume is glamorised without losing the original edge and style of the other Hedwig productions.
The Origin of Love was unfortunately a single night showing in Adelaide as part of the Cabaret Festival. However, it will be touring Australia later in the year.
Reviewed by Alex Dunkin
Rating out of 5: 5
One Night Only – season ended