The premier of Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles on Wednesday night at The National Theatre was a tremendous success for all of the cast, crew and production team involved. The evening was one of joy, celebration and hope, ending with audience and cast members dancing together on stage.
Fuel has produced Inua Ellams’ work for theatre since his debut play nine years ago. His newest production celebrates the generations of African men that gather in barber shops. Sometimes they have haircuts, sometimes they listen, more often than not they talk. Barber shops are confession boxes, political platforms, preacher-pulpits and football pitches... places to go for unofficial advice, and to keep in touch with the world. The barbers of these tales are sages, role models and father figures, they are the glue that keeps men together.
Interspersing scenes with contemporary UK grime music and traditional African song and dance, Barber Shop Chronicles invites the audience into a uniquely masculine environment where the banter may be barbed, but the truth always telling.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the reviews so far:
The Guardian (★★★★) - “It makes the average white British male’s belief that you simply go in for a haircut look decidedly dreary”
The Stage (★★★★★) - “Barber Shop Chronicles is a pleasure to experience. The level of joy in the room is high”
The Telegraph (★★★★) – “This is a show full of sadness and great joy”
The Independent (★★★★★) "Such an ambitious piece and so life-affirmingly realised. Go."
The Times (★★★★) "This wonderful new play is a revelation."
Financial Times (★★★★) "Funny, fast, thoughtful, moving. An absolute cracker."
TimeOut (★★★★★) a sharp-edged insight into African masculinity.
Barber Shop Chronicles is running at The National from the 8th June – 8th July 2017 and from the 12th – 29th June 2017 at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Barber Shop Chronicles is co-commissioned by Fuel and the National Theatre. Development funded by Arts Council England with the support of Fuel, National Theatre Studio, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Binks Trust, British Council ZA, Oran Mor and A Play, a Pie and a Pint.
Photo credit: Marc Brenner