Gerome Ragni Edith Oliver - Essay

Edith Oliver

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I have mixed feelings about "Hair."… (p. 128)

"Hair" is a musical comedy about life among the hippies in New York—a mixture of humor and put-on humor and wistfulness and smugness and self-pity and baloney—and life among the hippies can grow awfully tiresome after a while. And disagreeable as well; the second act is mostly taken up with a drug party—a farewell celebration for one of the characters, who has just been drafted—and it is a distressing concept. Even so, the show does have a life of its own, which is always rare and which cancels out some of my objections. Then, too, the sight of such a patently vigorous and high-spirited bunch drooping up and down the aisles as hippies in beads, panhandling and passing out leaf-lets, is just ironic enough to make some inroads into the attendant depressing effects…. "Hair" simply could not have existed ten years ago, and it is conceivable that it could mystify audiences ten years from now, but it does catch, and quite successfully, one of the many moods and aspects of life in this city in 1967. (pp. 128-30)

Edith Oliver, "The Theatre: 'Hair'," in The New Yorker (© 1967 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 38, November 11, 1967, pp. 127-28, 130.∗