THEATRE REVIEW: Barber Shop Chronicles ★★★★★

Barber Shop Chronicles
Bristol Old Vic
Thursday 2nd - Saturday 18th May 2019

Viewed as small snapshots around the world, from the UK to Uganda and everywhere in between, we visit barbers around the world with a multitude of things in common, but a clear sense of friendship, laughter and loyalty strike as the most prominent. For these set of performances at Bristol Old Vic, audiences are given the opportunity to take a seat on stage and be midst of the action, something which I took full advantage of and as a result I believe really heightened my experience of watching everything unfold.

Banded together by the love of football, and this particular match between Barcelona v Chelsea, we meet a whole array of locals from each part of the world, and what I felt resonated with me so much was the personal experiences to which I had back in South Africa a couple of years ago, and the kindness which is captured so purely by the vast ensemble that make us this production. I felt comfortable sat just beyond the action but still enough to interact with the cast, something Bijan Sheibani has directed incredibly tightly to give a sense of boldness, mixed together perfectly with Rae Smith’s stunning design which makes you forget you are watching a performance, rather being intertwined within the atmosphere, at its centrepiece has a iron-casted map of the world, revolving around to depict where we are in the world, in this fast paced, two hour straight masterpiece.

Michael Henry’s choice of music, as well as the original scores which accompanies each destination worked into the movement by Aline David is at the heart of the production the most vivid and will be the lasting image that I have in my head, with the preciseness of each transition a mesmerising joy to behold. Inua Ellams’ stunning script allows a audience member with little knowledge of these destinations feel a sense and warmth from the snapshots, as previously mentioned, and will inspire those under this bracket to potentially go out and travel to experience just have much the action on stage would resonate offstage.

Overall, Barber Shop Chronicles is a compelling and beautiful piece of theatre which comes under something that we may not see much often anymore in theatre, but something that will have every audience member coming away from their unique performance with a greater sense of understanding and empathy for the characters on stage, which is performed to an exceptional standard.


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