Three Buddhist nuns are praying. Immediately they are shot and killed by three white American nuns. Immediately the three white American nuns are shot and killed by three U.S. jetmen in white space helmets. Immediately the three U.S. jetmen are killed by three yellow faced Viet Cong. Immediately the three yellow faced Viet Cong are killed by three red faced American Indians. Immediately the three American Indians are killed by three unidentified Scotsmen, or maybe Green Berets.
And so it goes. Backwards, forwards, in slow motion, with loud music, under crazy lights, over and over again. They die backwards, they die forwards. In any event they die, and die. This is one of the stunning effects of stagecraft and comment in Hair, a musical by Gerome Ragni and James Rado which opens Joseph Papp's downtown effort, the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., in the magnificent premises of the former Astor Library.
Hair is like a lot of things we have seen before, mostly "Viet Rock". But it is better conceived and directed than all those things, including "Viet Rock". It is a generational protest shrewdly staged by Gerald Freeman, in a dazzling photographic set by Ming Cho Lee, extravagantly and admirably acted by wooly-haired co-author Gerome ragni, beautifully under acted by blond tasseled Walker Daniels as an unwilling hippie draftee.
This is in potential a terrifically exciting show which
somehow always lets you off the hook and maybe nobody can be blamed because
who knows how to speak the chaos of today? I don't. They do
not. But they do try, youthfully, smokily, in hip and in pot.
Which unfortunately is but a gesture, though fortunately a rousing gesture.
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