4th August 2016 at the Assembly Roxy
Beards! x 3 is an enjoyable show by the New Zealand company, Trick of the Light Theatre. The story focuses on Beatrix: a young girl who wants a beard. Luckily, her two dads are the best barbers in town so gaining some facial hair should be a cinch? Sadly not. They tell her they can only take away hair not put it in place so, as a girl, she will just have to do without a beard. Beatrix is deeply saddened by this news as she has noticed a common trend amongst successful and influential people throughout history - they all have beards!
This leads to an energetic romp through time with Wilgafortes: the flamboyant patron saint of bearded ladies. With the saint's help Beatrix visits some successful, influential and bearded men from the past to see if they can help her gain magnificent facial hair. These men, as it turns out, aren't quite as clever as Beatrix thought: they all need her help but do not offer any beard advice in return. In the end, Beatrix comes to realise that she doesn't need a beard (or to be a man) to be successful and influential but, simultaneously, if she wants to wear a fake beard then she will! (And she really rocked facial hair in my opinion)
The performance was fast paced and visually stimulating. The barber shop set was cheerful and clean with simple transformative elements which effectively changed the scene. My favourite element was probably the magic mirror: a window frame with a silver foil curtain behind which the actors did a great deal of silly dancing. Costume-wise, the barbers were pretty traditional with shirts, smart trousers and waistcoats; Beatrix wore a checked shirt, white mini skirt, red socks, red hairband and white trainers which made her seem youthful and girly but not overly so. The two male actors playing the dads were also Wilgafortes and the bearded blokes from throughout time: their characters were created through simple but effective costume changes.
The whole show was quite chaotic, but in a pleasing way. Holding it together were the chirpy and energetic songs which were sung well and with much gusto. It was surprisingly educational too as the audience were given several miniature history lessons during the beard quest. Sometimes the dialogue perhaps came a little too fast to fully absorb - even I, as a so-called adult, sometimes found myself getting swept away. There was, nevertheless, something for everyone: from a man rolling around in worms to sly jokes about political candidates with silly hair... The children and the grown-ups seemed to be chuckling in all the right places.
Ultimately, I felt really good after this performance. The strong message about girl power and the fact she had two dads won me over: this was the type of show I hoped to see in 2016.
Plus, the songs were really catchy.