Playwright Inua Ellams returns to Edinburgh where he started his award-winning career at the Fringe, 10 years ago

A NEW smash-hit production from the National Theatre of Great Britain and Leeds Playhouse gets a season at the Royal Lyceum next month.

By Liam Rudden
Monday, 23rd September 2019, 2:32 pm
Micah Balfour
Micah Balfour

Barber Shop Chronicles, which arrives to Scotland for the first time following an acclaimed national tour, two sold-out runs at the National Theatre of Great Britain, and celebrated tours of Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada, is written by award-winning playwright and author Inua Ellams, who began his career in theatre by winning a Fringe First in 2009 with his first play, The 14th Tale.

Directed by Olivier Award-winning Bijan Sheibani, Barber Shop Chronicles journeys from barber shops in London, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra, where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Newsroom, political podium, local hot-spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit, and football stadium - for generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world. Ellams recalls, "My journey as a theatre maker began with a Fringe First in Scotland in 2009, with my first play The 14th Tale, which later transferred to the National Theatre.

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"In the play, I first shared the themes of fatherhood, migration and globalisation which were further explored in the Barber Shop Chronicles.

"It feels somewhat fated now that it is, transferring from the National to Scotland, and I’m excited to see how Scottish audiences will respond to the broadening of a conversation I started with them 10 years ago.”

David Greig, artistic director of the Lyceum adds, “I think Inua Ellams is one of today’s most exciting voices in poetry and theatre, a feeling only heightened when I saw this smash hit originally staged at the National Theatre in London.

He continues, "In this piece, Ellams weaves a patchwork of barber shop banter from around the globe and welcomes you into this world with warmth, music, humour and politics - with a large and small p.

"Having grown up in Nigeria, I’ve been keen to welcome a Nigerian/British story to The Lyceum stage and Inua brings this rich duality to the fore with Barber Shop Chronicles.”

The piece stars Micah Balfour, best known for playing PC Benjamin Gayle in the ITV police drama The Bill from 2007 to 2010 and the cast is completed by Okorie Chukwu, Maynard Eziashi, Adé Dee Haastrup, Emmanuel Ighodaro, Demmy Ladipo, Mohammed Mansaray, Tom Moutchi, Anthony Ofoegbu, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Eric Shango and David Webber.Barber Shop Chronicles, Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, 23 October-9 November, £10-£33, 0131-248 4848