By Scott Tamkin, Jr. ‘ 22
African men from all over the world sharing stories, jokes and advice with one common setting: the barber shop. Nigerian-born playwright Inua Ellams gives audience an intimate look into the sacred space that black barber shops are; however, this humorous, honest, and thought-provoking play transcends simply the aesthetics of an aerodynamic hairstyle. Barber Shop Chronicles tackles topics ranging from politics to parenthood to cultural identity while simultaneously flowing between six different cities.
[Tickets are still available for performances of Barber Shop Chronicles Friday and Saturday, January 18 and 19, 8 pm!]
Personally, I found myself deeply engaged with each story line and remained on the edge of my seat each time a piece of the various intertwined stories fell into place. The masterful set takes you right inside each shop, and with each new location comes an overwhelming urge to clap along to the songs as the scenes shifted in a “musical chairs” fashion. Witty humor prompted laughter from all sides of the bright and colorful stage, and I felt a smile on my face more often than not.
Beyond the comedic aspect, the passion that each actor put forth made for quite the emotional impact as we heard tales of love, loss, and forgiveness. The play offers many moralizing stories which inspire us to think critically about reclaiming heritage, the evolution of racism, and the struggle between traditional and contemporary ideologies. To put it simply, Barber Shop Chronicles is a smashing hit that will leave you, quite literally, dancing out of the theater.
Scott is a Dartmouth first-year student and a member of Arts Ambassadors, a club for students who like to get together and see performances.