West End's HAIR Review Roundup

West End's HAIR Review Roundup

A celebration of life, a love letter to freedom, and a passionate cry for hope and change, "HAIR" features some of the greatest songs ever written for the stage including ‘Aquarius', ‘Good Morning Starshine', ‘Let the Sun Shine In' and the title number.

Charles Spencer, Telegraph: "The verve and energy of the company, who frequently make forays into the audience, ruffling the spectators’ hair and kissing them on the cheek, is irresistible, the vitality of Karole Armitage’s turbo-charged and often highly erotic choreography genuinely thrilling. Diane Paulus’s production brilliantly succeeds in letting the audience imagine it is present at a Sixties happening where sex and drugs and rock and roll (not to mention full-frontal nudity) combine to create a world of bleary bonhomie, naive idealism and political radicalism. But that is only part of the story. The conventional view of Hair is that while the score, with its unforgettable tunes by Galt MacDermot, is superb, the book, by Gerome Ragni and James Rado (who also wrote the lyrics), is a mess. It is a judgment past revivals of the show have tended to confirm – but not here. For this is surely a musical whose time has come again. Fuelled in 1967 by anger about the war in Vietnam, it seems especially pertinent now in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, when American and this time British troops are once again dying horrible deaths in foreign lands."

Benedict Nightingale, Times Online: "this is a production whose unstoppable energy and ebullient choreography more than compensate for what could, I suppose, still be considered flaws. Hair takes glee in rambling dialogue, formlessness, intellectual sloppiness and an absence of rhyme that means, say, Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man” speech becomes a word-for-word song. But this is part of a countercultural defiance that extends to love-ins, smoke-ins and the spoofing of an enemy whose number is legion and whose name is sometimes the American Legion. Oppressive parents, zealous patriots, fascist teachers — all are on these peaceniks’ hitlist."

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage.com: "This revival also makes positive all the clichés and sloganeering by giving them a sort of Brechtian incantatory power, again much aided by Galt MacDermot's score, which is both sensationally well sung and brilliantly played by the onstage band under Richard Beadle's musical direction."

Michael Coveney, The Independent: "The only revival of Hair I've seen since the opening London version (which ran for years at the Shaftesbury Theatre), at the Old Vic 15 years ago, couldn't surmount the essential silliness of Claude and Berger and the rest. This production does, partly due to the very high level of musicianship in the singing (and in the terrific onstage band) but also the unembarrassed charm of the performers, even when they are clambering over the customers, mussing up their hair-dos and handing out flowers and invitations to a be-in ("bring something to suck!")."

Warwick Thompson, Bloomberg.com: "The drawback is that the contemporary urgency of the message has diminished. The specter of AIDS can’t but hover now over the characters’ demands for sexual freedom. And the fact that there’s no military draft any more provides another sepia tint to the proceedings. In the show, the draft is vital, as it’s seen as the chief enemy of individual hedonism. More so, even, than the enemy of political justice in Vietnam. "

Quentin Letts, Mail Online: "Hippies were notoriously ill-washed, after all. And take the cast's teeth - particularly those of Mr Swenson. Perfectly arrayed gnashers, every one of them. These performers had plainly spent thousands of dollars at the dentist. Not such cool, let-it-all-hang-out types, after all. The plot limps to the point that one of the group, Claude (Gavin Creel) receives his call-up papers for 'Nam. What will he do? Along the way we briefly meet an elderly couple, Margaret and Hubert. Look out for Andrew Kober as Margaret. She, or he, is a ringer for the young Sir Geoffrey Howe. Other notable performances come from Caissie Levy as Berger and Claude's girlfriend, and Kacie Sheik as a pregnant hippie called Jeanie. She finds free love is a poor substitute for true love. That is one of the few intrusions of doubt on the swinging Sixties credo."

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