"Hair", as we had been told to expect, last night proved to be truly an experience - not for nudity or any other single factor, but for the total excitement it generates.
The American "tribal love-rock musical" is unlike any previous show that I can call to mind.
True, it contains many echoes, but everything is more so than before.
It is about youth and is infused with furious energy, it has an abundance of highly attractive pop music, and it has an unorthodox style that assaults the audience.
It has a tremendously successful performance by its cast, and The Tully, the pop music group.
The actors-singers-dancers are little-known performers, and all locals except for six imported Americans.
Their work is eminently professional, and alive with the sort of vigor that the show demands.
But more than a good score and good performers is required to make something an experience rather than a proficient show.
The extra comes from all sorts of externals - gimmicks, if you like, though the unqualified word may be a little unfair.
Certainly the presentation abounds in showmanship.
At the outset the players distribute yellow chrysanthemums to the audience.
The action opens in slow motion, accompanied by spurts of electrophonic music.
Nearly every possible lighting device is used at one time or other - psychedelic colors, flashing lights and even hand-torches.
At one point a female vocal trio appears on a sliding platform that emerges from an auditorium wall.
There is much more, and the whole is the closest we have yet come to "total theatre".
There is much in "Hair" to offend people - but that reflects the aggressive course that the modern theatre is taking.
The nude scene, however, is brief and in context is unlikely to offend most theatergoers.
It arises unobtrusively from the action and seems to be vaguely symbolical, representing the defenselessness of the human animal who comes naked into the world.
But a number of words are used that many people will not like; and worse is the mock that it makes of religious beliefs.
It also mocks patriotism.
Jim Sharman's direction is a triumph in the precision and flow of complex production, and in uniform excellence of the performers.
The chief technical shortcoming was that an elaborate sound-amplifying system boomed and distorted, and made it impossible to judge the quality of the singing.
Copyright The Sydney Daily Telegraph.