No results found

Waterperry web banner2 f2suhd
What's On, Theatre, Music

Review: Six

A bold and brilliant alternative unravelling

divider
SIX2019JP 00559
Lauren Byrne as Jane Seymour, Jodie Steele as Katherine Howard, Lauren Drew as Catherine of Aragon, Maddison Bulleyment as Anne Boleyn, Shekinah McFarlane as Anne of Cleves, Athena Collins as Catherine Parr. Photo by Johan Persson.

In Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow’s Olivier Award-nominated musical, an energetic cast of Henry VIII’s wives whip through their own summaries of these marriages in an hour and 20 (and the most memorable of history lessons ever). My year 11 son’s teacher actually suggested his class go to see it as revision for their history GCSE, even though academics might not describe this fun-packed frolic as wholly accurate.

This is the Tudor era on space-age acid; a short sharp burst of history that’s more a rock concert than medieval court. Six feisty women in glittering costumes and enviably sparkly boots fill the stage throughout with big personalities and strong choreography, whilst live music is provided by an on-stage four-piece band of Ladies In Waiting. Picture an X Factor-style competition to determine which of the wives has the most terrible time with Henry, as each of the catty contestants take the microphone.

It’s like the Spice Girls reinvented. Each is different, each has her own character, attitude and back-story, and each is vying for the spotlight. Anne Boleyn, famed for losing her head, is an iridescent temptress in serpent green (played by Maddison Bulleyment), whilst Jane Seymour (Lauren Byrne) is more of a rom-com girl-next-door, her song adding a moment of pathos in an otherwise high-octane performance. There’s also a rather fun neon dance club interlude as Anne of Cleves (wife four; played by Shekinah McFarlane) is chosen from across Europe based on the portrait painted of her by Holbein. She may not have matched up to her profile picture but she’s bursting with humour.

When final wife Catherine Parr (Athena Collins) steps up for her turn, she changes the tempo and there’s a gentle twist in mood as she introduces a touch of politics, and employs a couple of choice phrases that could have been lifted from Newsnight this week as she fights for feminism ahead of a girl power finale that has the audience roaring to their feet.

Six is a bold and brilliant alternative unravelling of the most famous fact about Henry’s reign. It’s fantastic fun and if all lessons were like this, children wouldn’t be able to get out of bed fast enough in the morning.

Six is at Oxford Playhouse until 23 November, at Milton Keynes Theatre 25-30 November

RECOMMENDED

Corinne Bailey Rae
Wed 1 May 2024

Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On snap-shotted the summer of 2006. Her most recent release, Black Rainbows came out 2023 and it is obvious to hear how much she is relishing the full range of her unique voice and, as I was to discover when we spoke, her extraordinarily lyrical vocabulary.

Katie otb8tw
Fri 1 Mar 2024

This month, Katie Melua will be in Oxford, helping to launch the Oxford Literary Festival’s new Programme in Georgian Literature and Culture.

Namvula BBC Music nuyc98
Fri 1 Mar 2024

Described as having a diasporic upbringing, singer-songwriter Namvula is also a gifted photographer and was co-founder of Film Africa, a London-based celebration of African cinema and culture. She now lives in Oxford where she will be performing later this month at The North Wall.

Samara c7xjrp
Wed 1 Nov 2023

OX Meets the American Jazz singer Samara Joy.