From Iceland — THE HAIR


Published July 23, 2004


But a question that I had to ask is: Where are the Icelandic hippies? How can an Icelandic audience connect to these freaks dancing around and grabbing each others’ asses? I certainly don’t see a lot of embracing on the streets. In fact, once I gave a carefree hug to a friend while standing outside Bónus and someone passing said, “Þau eru útlendingar” (“They’re foreigners”). How do I find the Icelandic hippies?
“If there were hippies in Iceland, they would be energetic,” the director, Rúnar Freyr Gíslason, said. “They’d be that much ‘screw the system’, but with hard work and power, not laziness.”
“I do feel that people are breaking out more, proud of what they stand for,” Selma Björns, who plays Sheila, told me. “What’s lacking today is believing that we can actually change the world. We should speak out more, like they did.”
Their belief in this show is obviously earnest, which may partly explain how they have managed to create viable characters in a musical that can seem one-dimensional in its compulsive commitment to peace-n-love.
There are many outstanding voices and several performers who are unfailingly enjoyable to watch, most notably Guðjón Davíð as Voffi, an innately endearing character who is uber-lovable here, and Unnur Ösp as Dionne has a kind of spark that keeps her consistently in focus. Björn Thors, who plays Berger, seems to have been actually transported from 1960s America and simply rocks. The voices of Sverrir Bergmann, Selma Björns and Alma Rut add massively to the show. Some of the supporting cast members look like they’re just excited to be on stage, but at least you can tell they’ve been having a good time.
The production thrives in other ways as well, and it is especially visual; the lighting is uninhibited and the choreography similarly serves to build a graspable atmosphere. The show is also pretty rock and roll, and the CD is probably the best thing one can bring to friends outside Iceland as a souvenir.
Although Iceland may seem somewhat removed from out-of-control wars, it is not without its unfair fights and poorly-motivated political actions. The fact that Hair is still relevant in contemporary society is verification that we have a long way to go. Even though the show is in many ways simply a good time, it still emphasizes that aiming at unity is anything but silly.

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