Where Do I Go?

HairThe Byre Theatre, 1st November 2012****The question Claude asks himself at the end of the first act of Hair is probably the same that Just So are asking themselves following the show’s sell-out run. How can they follow up on a show like that? As someone who has seen very few musicals, I had no idea what Hair was about and very little to compare it to. So, fortunately, I approached it with no preconceptions about how it should look or sound, and not only was I impressed, I was blown away.Upon entering the Byre the audience discovered the stage awash in colour, with a live band set up on a raised platform and the ensemble milling about the stage, barefoot upon a floor of patterned rugs. In the background stood a VW campervan and a ladder, decorated with flowers. One cast member wandering in through the back of the theatre paused to stroke and compliment our hair on his way to the stage. The actors’ commitment to their characters for the twenty minutes it took the audience to take their seats was extremely impressive.And what an amazing cast. Though no performance could really be faulted, DJ Ball as Berger stole the show whenever his character came into focus. Highly commendable, too, were Kuffasse Boane as Hud, whose character I would hardly have guessed is usually male, so naturally did she take on the role, and Tommy Rowe as Claude, whose conflict between his loyalty to the Tribe and the pressure from his family to give in to the draft was truly heartfelt.As a piece with very little dialogue, Hair could easily have been let down by poor direction. But with Adelaide Waldrop at the helm every song formed a fluid and beautiful image on the stage in a way that was never dull to look at. The plot was sometimes hard to follow and occasionally seemed more like a series of songs performed than a musical, but that is the nature of the piece and, despite some initial confusion, Hair built to a highly moving and emotional climax. As Claude returned to the stage sans a rather lovely blonde wig, the meaning of the musical’s title (finally) became clear to me. To the Tribe, their long hair represents their freedom and their refusal to conform, in stark contrast to the short-cropped heads of the drafted soldiers. Claude’s sudden hairlessness is more shocking than the much-anticipated nude scene; he is the most strikingly bare of them all.All in all, an outstanding piece, performed beautifully. The Tribe could not be prouder of its namesake!Alex MullarkyImages: Kelly Diepenbrock