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The Hidden Review: Barber Shop Chronicles Theatre Review


“One day. Six cities. A thousand stories”
The Hidden Review has watched Barber Shop Chronicles, written by Inua Ellams and performed at the Round House London, shown on National Theatre at Home. Inua Ellams is sharp, snappy and engaging as ever in his smash hit new play that throws us into barbershops across two continents. The vibrant environment of a barbershop is brought to life excellently by Ellams', and is used excellently to provoke questions, introduce themes and explore ideas, of language, cultural tension and boundaries. This is a snapshot into an atmosphere distinct atmosphere, that holds a special place in the black men's culture, and everything that comes with. Ellams' use of the Brechtian approach gives him the space to move quickly through the piece, employ comedic archetypes and stereotypes and get straight to the point. We follow experiences in barbershops that appear to be unconnected; however, Ellams subtle writing begins to weave this together to great effect. Jokes, family connections, and personal experience knit this collage of stories together into a well-rounded picture of a community. Language in identity is central to this piece, and it is in Ellams' ability to ask questions without making it in your face, how does one oppress oneself when speaking the language of an oppressor, and how we escape that question. I occasionally struggled, watching this show online undermines a lot of the tensions and atmosphere, a shame, but this show is still definitely worth the watch.
Acting is excellent across the board, Fisayako (Samuel/Wallace/Timothy) stands out, toiling with tension and boiling over in the final act. The characterisation is a strong point of the show, slick multi-rolling and playful caricatures make for an engaging, fast-paced performance.
Hidden fire stars 8/10 ⭐️

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