Gerome Ragni Howard Taubman - Essay

Howard Taubman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The story line of "Hair" … is so attenuated that it would be merciful to label the piece a revue. Examined under this rubric, it can be appreciated for what it essentially is—a wild, indiscriminate explosion of exuberant, impertinent youthful talents. What if coherence is lacking, discipline meager and taste often deplorable? The youngsters—authors and performers—have the kind of vitality that sends the memories of an older theatergoer wandering back to the twenties—to the bright impudence of "The Grand Street Follies" and "The Garrick Gaieties."

"Hair," it seems to me, is today's equivalent to those Off-Broadway revues of four decades ago in which another generation of gifted newcomers proclaimed their arrival. There are, of course, significant differences in content and style, but the great, overriding similarity is that of new voices expressing themselves with a freshness and vigor that warn they mean to take over uptown one of these days….

"Hair" is much more concerned with the larger issues than its predecessors of the twenties. Although it devotes a good deal of time to the tribal rites of the hippies, it lashes out at public figures. Its comment on the war in Vietnam is biting, and its contempt for contemporary institutions is unmistakable….

Could be that the score of "Hair" will shape up as an authentic voice of the popular culture of 1967.

Howard Taubman, "'Hair'," in The New York Times (© 1967 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 13, 1967 (and reprinted in The New York Times Theatre Reviews, The New York Times Company, 1971).