Friday, August 15, 2008
The best thing about Hair, more a three-ring circus than a musical, is that Diane Paulus, working in the wonderfully outside and natural Delacourt Theater--and with tickets costing nothing--has captured the energy that led Gerome Ragni and James Rado to grow Hair in the first place. How can you not want to "Let the Sunshine In" when the actors are running up the aisles to sit next to you, propellering their hair around? (Even more so given that the show was almost rained out.) However, even though the actors did marvelously, nothing about the show itself actually stands out--not beyond the pure spectacle. The songs are soundbites, and often repetative at that, and rather than developing character and plot, Hair attempts (and occasionally succeeds) at evoking a raw mood: some of the meditative chants build to something quite larger than the sum of their parts. As for the show itself, which ends in a large symbolic statement about the underlying cost to all of this freedom and fun (oddly enough, it is as much pro-war as anti-war), it seems ultimately reductive of everything it's been singing for.