In the fifty years since Hair The Musical was first staged, and it feels like the world has come full circle, with so many of the same issues, such as war and inequality, still hanging over our heads like a great cloud of funny-smelling smoke. There are far less hippies around than there were in the sixties, but that ideology hasn’t disappeared, it’s simply evolved with the generations into a new kind of rebellion.
The musical itself has evolved too, with the version currently playing at The Vaults, and directed by Jonathan O’Boyle being revisited by writer, James Rado, to bring it back in line with the original vision he had with co-writer Gerome Ragni. Going back to its fringe heritage, there’s a veiled reference to Trump and a new song that has only previously been in the movie version, it feels far more accessible and genuine than any big stage production ever could.
Before you set foot in the theatre, you experience a mini Woodstock vibe, with comfortable chill out areas and merchandise stalls dotted around the faux festival. I could have sworn I could even smell hashish, as the entire ambiance tricks your senses and transports you to the summer of love.
Inside, the ceiling is adorned with brightly coloured prayer ribbons making it feel like a giant tent, designer Maeve Black has excelled in bringing the era to the guts of Waterloo. Ben M Rogers’ lighting is a psychedelic explosion of wonder, creating the most stunning backdrop to already beautiful staging. In the scene where Claude, magnificently played by Robert Metson, is tripping on a hallucinogenic, you could almost be part of it, with the neon colors bursting and popping. The use of a giant cloth, to convey so much, is inspired.