Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not your typical Broadway musical. Instead of chorus lines and tap numbers, the show features an onstage band and 90 minutes of punk rock. On top of that, the characters are eclectic. There’s Hedwig (played by Nicholas Japaul Bernard), who struggles to come to terms with her identity after a botched sex-change operation (although she is genderqueer, she uses she/her pronouns); Yitzhak (played by Dani Hobbs), Hedwig’s husband, whom she hates; and the unseen Tommy Gnosis, a rock star and Hedwig’s ex-lover, who abandoned her after learning that she was not technically a woman. Through these characters, their relationships, and dramatic, powerful songs, the show presents its central message: that one must embrace change and the unknown.
Throughout the show, Hedwig seems fixated on the past and present, instead of looking to the future, something that was mirrored in the staging. Because we normally read from left to right, stage left (from the audience’s perspective) is reminiscent of the past, while stage right symbolizes the future. During the show, Hedwig tended to stay stage left/center, displaying her obsession with her life before the operation and her relationship with Tommy, as well as her inability to focus on her current self and what’s to come. On the other hand, Yitzhak, who sits stage right, essentially becomes the show’s future—at the end of the show, they sing alone while Hedwig leaves the stage.