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50th anniversary of Hair is not just a performance but an experience – review

Hair

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a bang; Hair breaks into The Vaults for a knock-out performance you’ve just got to experience live.

United States of America, 1967. The Vietnam war is well under way and many American’s are protesting the war. Hair looks at a group of young, self-proclaimed hippies who are pro-drug, anti-war and anti-establishment.

With The Vaults providing an intensely intimate setting, seating only 200 people with a number of the seats being positioned on the stage itself, it’s impossible to ever feel disconnected from the story – and the cast don’t even let you try. Frequently interacting with the audience, talking, stroking, laying, singing at and much more, they take any notion of the audience/performer barrier and destroy it in a beautiful metaphor for the storyline itself.

Maeve Black’s design extends well beyond the 200 seater theatre with the entire venue has been transformed into an immersive 60’s venue. Anti-warn banners and slogans adorning the wall, wood chips strewn on the grass lined floor in the atrium and a focus on the stereotypical flower power of hippy life.

Related: Marianne Elliott’s genius direction lifts Heisenberg to success – review

A truly youthful and joyous cast give energy and depth to the piece with fantastic vocals throughout. Shekinah Macfarlane [Dionne] commanding attention with an intensely powerful voice. Andy Coxon’s Berger is a dominating presence – often pulling focus in scenes he’s barely in. A true testament to characterisation. Coupled with Robert Metson’s Claude provided hilarity throughout their drug fuelled “first world” problems.

Hair is as relevant now as it was in 1967. A lot of the controversies and things that Hair originally tackled are still alive and well in 2017. LGBTQ+ rights, racism, war, drugs and protesting an unfair society. It feels oddly familiar. Starting the show with a recording of a Trump speech from 2016 lends credence to this notion, however, it’s never mentioned again. No references to modern culture, and no deviations to the 21st century.

Hair is not just a performance but an experience from the moment you enter, staying with you love after you’ve left.

Gay Times gives Hair – 4/5

More information can be found here.

Encore radio – Songs from your favourite musicals

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