Last night I tried something new. Something daring and different and I liked it- I liked it a lot!
I went to the theatre on my own- it wasn’t a planned thing; my date for the evening was poorly and, at late notice people either had plans including a Game of Thrones Finale Party and a Pint of Science event. What can I say, I have a fantastic and eclectic bunch of friends! (As an aside; check a pint of science out by the way; It is basically chatting to scientists over a pint about their latest research. What an amazing way to make science more accessible and attainable- well done scientists- clearly not one trick ponies 😊 )
So, I hopped on the bus, had a chat with a lovely lady about the quality of the Tesco Magazine and the fact you can buy the ingredients anywhere you fancy! I then hopped off again and wondered up in to the theatre through St Johns Gardens taking in the lights and statues and revelling in the evening sunshine- glorious.
On arrival at the Liverpool Empire I grabbed a glass of wine and took my seat. The couple next to me struck up a conversation and before I knew it the lights went down and the theatre was filled with snippets of speeches from various civil rights activists and ex presidents of the USA- What an opening; it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; it was a stark reminder that we are still protesting today to make our voices heard and try to bring about change, but also that change is possible and what individuals do makes a difference.
HAIR centres on the protest groups that formed to fight the Veitnam War and the ‘Hippie’ movement and the Summer of Love which is synonymous with the period. It is full on Psychedelia from beginning to end with smoke and fire and insense- its an assault on the senses and; as the choreographer of the original production said at the time;
It is sensory bombardment- it is like life; absorb what you can, you miss a lot but don’t question it.
That is the best description for it- there is A LOT going on and you totally get the sense of the hallucinations and bad trips which is all credit to the cast. Two that massively stood out for me were the delicious Marcus Collins who plays Hud. Despite a technical hitch at the beginning of his first number he was a total pro and how much he was loving the whole performance shone out of him and he is SUCH a good singer with amazing stage presence, his home audience lapped it up and he gave back in spades. Next up is Aiesha Pease who plays Dionne. Just Incredible- her voice is out of this world and she just was the part- confident, feisty and comfortable in her skin. We could all be a little more Dionne! (I’m not sure if this is just me but, does anyone else find that as a parent you now always consider how peoples parents feel… I always do; I’m a sentimental old fool and my god, her parents should be over the bloody moon!)
Another perk of my solo theatre trip was that I had the time to read the programme and I learnt loads about the war, the peaceful protests and the whole period. Pub quiz knowledge I am squirrelling away for future use; Get this; it was a Leary; Timothy Leary – a psychologist and advocate for the controlled use of psychedelic drugs) that coined the phrase “Turn-on, tune-in and drop out.” (obviously in my head I am now practically the founder of the peace core thanks to our shared name!!)
Point to note though- it is long show, the first act is 70 minutes long and act 2 is just over 50 mins so…get some snacks and, be prepared for some full frontal nudity (there are binoculars for those at the back 😉 I’m not sure about the historical accuracy… there was some serious trimming and topiary on view and I hear that things were a little more free range back in the day!
Would I recommend it? Yeah, I think I would. It is a production that shares the ‘Hippie Code’ of the 60’s and speaks that generation and every other in a full on, fresh and fun way.
Create a better lifestyle and a better world. Do your own thing, wherever you have to and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you know it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on to beauty, love, honesty and fun.
HAIR is on a UK tour and is at the Empire until Saturday 25th May, check the website for other venues and, check out the Empire website to see what else is coming this year.