Hair – review

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Photo: Qi Tian

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

Dir. Adelaide Waldrop

The Byre, 01 Nov, 8pm

* * * *

Hair revolves around ‘the tribe’, a group of hippies struggling to uphold their easy-going, free love, pacifist lifestyles against the pressures of the Vietnam war and conservative American society. The play has always been considered controversial for its prominent features of profanity, illegal drugs, sexuality, disregard and disrespect towards authority, and the famed nudity scene. What more could you ask for?

With director Adelaide Waldrop and her extremely talented cast, it would appear not much at all. As Hair unfolds, one is struck by the closeness of the cast and their command of the audience: Their animated acting, talented singing voices, and beautiful dance performances. The performers all seemed to move fluidly across and beyond the stage as they captivate and draw in the audience.

Photo: Qi Tian

The famed nudity scene was a questionable scene for students to perform but should be noted for its tasteful depiction and consideration to the courageous actors, making it one of the most successful scenes in the play. As the musical numbers came on, one was struck by the cast’s successful adherence to comedy whilst singing; their antics suitably caused ripples of laughter through the audience. Of additional note was the performance of theme song ‘Hair‘, which was especially spectacular.

Powerful singers like Hannah Risser (Dionne) and Kuffasse Boane (Hud) demanded the audience’s attention, while the outlandish and wild character of DJ Ball’s Berger easily commanded the stage while enjoying his fair share of dirty humour. Comedic characters like Clare Sheehan’s pregnant and lovesick Jeanie and Callum Bell’s hilarious Mick Jagger-obsessed Woof made up an excellent supporting cast. Moreover, the versatility of actors such as Jo Cunningham and Emily Salt in reversed gender roles was commendable (Cunningham gets extra kudos for his ability to maintain his old lady accent in song).

Photo: Qi Tian

There was little fault with Hair though it should be noted Ayanna Coleman’s Sheila and Tommy Rowe’s Claude seemed to initially falter in characterisation; redeemed only through their impressive singing talent. The occasionally uneven distribution of voices combined with the live band playing sometimes led to a drowning out of some song’s powerful lyrics and towards the end Rowe’s microphone cut out, greatly diminishing the impact of the denouement. However, Rowe has to be applauded for his ability to continue as if nothing happened and his unwavering attempt to project his voice without the aid of his microphone.

Technical difficulties aside, Waldrop’s direction has been superb in bringing the cast together and onto the stage. In conjunction with the wonderful live band-playing, Brendan Macdonald’s musical direction, and Faye Hatoum’s choreography, Hair is definitely a wonder to enjoy. The cast dynamics, and the talent and comedy they bring to the stage makes Hair an experience that ought not to be missed.

Photo: Qi Tian

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