You can probably tell more about people based on their hairstyles than on factors such as astrological signs, political party affiliations or favorite TV shows. Horizon Theatre’s comedy And Her Hair Went With Her takes place at an African-American hair salon and at one point, two stylists judge personality types based on their hairdos. A tall, natural afro signifies health and freedom, “black women with braids got their shit together,” and more.
Fashion aficionados could read volumes into the different wigs and ’dos chosen for Horizon’s hilarious production, but And Her Hair Went With Her only devotes a fraction of its 90-minute run to hair-centric discussions. Hairstylists Angie (Karan Kendrick) and Jasmine (Tonia M. Jackson) spend most of their time encountering wacky customers and arguing over cultural values that could come up at any number of places, not just the beauty shop.
Angie, an intellectual, Angela Davis-worshipping would-be writer and single mother, advocates for higher learning and cerebral pursuits. Jasmine embraces her sensuality and her McDonald’s habit with earthy abandon. While Jasmine’s not against education, she’s also in favor of keeping it real. In between clients, they quiz each other with Nina Simone trivia and discuss whether “chitlins” should be enunciated as “chitterlings.”
Zina Camblin’s script swings so drastically from humor to pathos that it’s practically bipolar. In the two-actress production, Kendrick and Jackson uproariously portray the silly hairstyle customers, most of whom play off different cultural quirks of the African-American community, including germ-phobic Keisha, who plans to start a business for “black obsessive-compulsives,” and blond Chrystal, who has bizarre esteem issues with white people.
And Her Hair also contains a surprisingly grim subplot about Angie visiting a woman in prison. Kendrick and Jackson (as the inmate) negotiate the changes in tone, but the scenes only scratch the surface of ideas about sexuality and the criminal justice system before returning to the beauty shop hijinks.
Directed by Thomas W. Jones II, And Her Hair Went With Her proves to be more overall fun than the Alliance Theatre’s 2007 barbershop play Cuttin’ Up. The scenes with the clients play more like brief comedy sketches than as deeper considerations of characters or ideas. They do, however, provoke so many laughs that they make And Her Hair an entertaining “ladies’ night out” show that’s significantly smarter than Menopause the Musical. Just know that this style comes with dark streaks.