Words by Kieton Saunders-Browne
Describing the Barbershop Chronicles would be like trying to describe an emotion. Sometimes there aren’t really words to describe it. From the second you walk into the show there is an automatic feel of immersion. The cast are bringing people on stage, genuinely interacting with them with what seemed to be just the actors having a good time before the show and it definitely felt like something of a vibrant barbershop. Quite a few plays have the stylised opening of letting the audience see the actors before the performance, but this felt like more than that with the context of the show. Being someone who often goes into theatre not knowing what I am about to see, it definitely gets you interested for the show to start. The whole play had strong comedy scattered throughout having me worrying if I was laughing to loud in concern for the person sitting in front of me. It was ‘Real’ comedy. Jokes that I would have heard in the exact same style as the jokes I may hear in that environment. The actors had definitely brought experience from their own lives and culture making the whole show feel organic. Even though the show was a peek into a fairly specific aspect of a certain culture, I am very sure that anyone who has never even set foot into a barbershop of the likes would understand most things that the show was trying to portray. The play was energised and constantly on it’s feet with dance and song between scenes to make them just as interesting as the scenes themselves. This also came through in the amazing ability to switch the pace of scenes from drop dead comedy to heartbreaking seriousness, putting a little tear in my eye from time to time. The stage presence was strong, the topics of each individual scene meshed with clever writing, and the staging/lighting was not too much or too little. Everything in the show was for a purpose that hit a home run. There is very little, if anything, I could say that was bad about this performance. I found the best way I could describe the whole show was ‘inclusive’. I feel this mostly came down to the actors, but was massively powered by the writing and direction. The actors did not seem to be putting anything on and felt, like I said before, organic. I constantly had the word ‘raw’ popping into my head whenever twitching in the show trying to figure out what it was that made me feel so at ease with the show. I don’t usually feel a massive connection to my culture as I was never really put into a specific life style, but this show made me feel every little bit empowered with the choice of topics, such as parenting and what it is to be a man. The show was crafted beautifully and I thinking back on the show right now and those ‘closing moments’, when I instantly stood up to give a standing ovation, In some strange way I feel like the show hasn’t ended. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to see something they will enjoy from start to finish.