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One-woman show traces roots of hair extensions

A quirky true-life story is just the sort of thing that has me marking a biro circle in a fringe programme. That’s how I ended up seeing Hair Peace just before my flight home last Edinburgh Festival and I was glad I squeezed it in.

The show, on in Brighton this weekend, tells the story of Victoria Melody’s search for the source of her hair extensions – the women behind the locks.

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Victoria, who is actually Brighton-based, calls herself an artist and specialises in shows and films with an anthropological slant about ‘pastimes, passions and tribes.’ In fact, she straddles several genres, weaving documentary film-footage, story telling and comedy into Hair Peace.

As an added twist in a tale of fakery, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Victoria reminded me of a young Anthea Turner, but then, I don’t think we ever saw her real hair, as she switched through a series of extravagant wigs.

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Victoria’s previous projects have seen her become a pigeon fancier, Northern Soul dancer, championship dog handler and beauty queen. It was for her beauty queen role that she found herself having extensions for the first time in her life and became ‘freaked out by wearing a piece of somebody else’s body’.

Without giving too much away, Victoria’s bizarre search in Hair Peace takes her via a DNA profiling lab to a Russian shopping mall and an Indian temple, conducting video interviews along the way and following one women’s life changing experience in particular. The story even includes an intervention by a celebrity Big Brother contestant.

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Whether or not you’ve ever had fake tresses it’s a fascinating insight into the industry, including its shadier aspects, and the striking differences in economies of scale between donors, suppliers and end users across the globe. My husband and I both found the story gripping. With video input from two women at the donating and receiving ends of the trade, with their own very different psychological reasons for doing what they did, there are some genuinely moving moments.

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It’s a non-judgemental show but you’ll find it hard to resist a good giggle at the advanced age of some of the donors whose hair is considered the highest quality by glamorous young things in the UK. You’ll also get to stroke Victoria’s hair extensions… now that they are no longer attached to her head.

Hair Peace is on at the Studio Theatre at The Dome, Brighton, on Saturday 5 March. 7.30pm. Tickets costs £12 (£10 concessions) brightondome.org . It will also be on just over the border in Petersfield in May, handy if you live Petworth/Midhurst way. See victoriamelody.co.uk 

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