Hair at The Orchard Theatre
The 50th anniversary production of Hair has finally reached somewhere local to me and I was so excited to get to see it. Starting its life in Manchester this production of Hair made its way to the Vaults in London and finally on a tour around the country. I got to see it at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford.
Hair was written and is set during the 1960’s and focuses on the ‘hippie’ movement. The tribe is made up of individuals all with a unique story, in particular Claude who has been handed his draft card and struggling with the idea of fighting in the Vietnam War. All of them do have in common their desire to celebrate freedom, love and equalioty.
The show embraces everything hippie and the set is bright and colourful, the cast start the show by lighting up on stage and end act 1 with full nudity. None of this however appears to be done for effect and the whole show fits this hippie, flower power vibe perfectly.
Much of the staging was very clever. The set was used well as they leapt from tree stumps to the ‘grass’ covered stage. I also particularly enjoyed the use and the simplicity of a large coloured sheet during ‘Walking In Space.’ The cast worked well as a ‘tribe’ and the balance was perfectly struck between focuses on the tribes solo moments and moments where they all come together.
Across the board the cast are incredibly strong and as a ‘tribe’ it seems unfair to single people out…but I will. Paul Wilkins as Claude captures the balance of the vulnerability of a boy off to war combined with the self-assurance of his belief in equality and free love. Jake Quickenden as Berger makes an immediate impression when he wonders around the audience in a thong. His presence on stage is remarkable however and he oozes charm and arrogance, perfect for this role. Daisy Wood-Davis takes on the part of Sheila and her voice makes her solo moments a particular highlight of the show and ‘Easy To Be Hard’ a moving moment.
The show itself often makes little sense but that can be seen as part of the appeal. You often feel as if you are on a trip with the tribe due to this. The choreography by William Whelton reflects this. At times it is considered and slow and then by contrast other moments are anarchic which really draws out the feeling behind that particular moment.
There is a song list of 47 songs and inevitably some are more successful than others. Helped by the infamy of the song itself ‘Aquarius’ is a strong opening number which sets the scene perfectly and ‘I Got Life’ is a joyful expolision of energy.
For a night of psychedelic, peace and free love Hair is a great trip to the theatre….in more ways than one!
To find out more about Hair and get tickets visit their website.