Six review - November 2019
One of a kind, no category‘We’re one of a kind, no category’ sing the queens of SIX in the closing number of this spectacular, new British musical, and that couldn’t be more accurate. Take one part traditional musical theatre, one part arena popstar extravaganza and mix it together with a healthy dose of GCSE ‘her-story’, and you’ve got yourself one of the most successful homegrown musicals in recent times.
From humble beginnings at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 to an open-ended run in London’s West End, and even Broadway on the horizon in 2020. SIX, written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is slowly taking over the world and attracting a legion of hardcore fans in the process – the Queendom.
Reclaiming the stories of Henry VIII’s infamous wives, SIX takes on the form of a medieval pop concert where each Queen is competing to become the lead singer and gain the most adoration from the audience. The queen who suffered the most hardships (divorce, decapitation, I’m sure you know the rest) and gives the best performance will reign supreme. This is no easy feat though, as each performance is utterly captivating and showcases the best of the cast's immeasurable talent.
Jarnéia Richard-Noel embodies Beyoncé as she storms through Catherine of Aragon’s sass-tastic No Way, while Courtney Bowman’s impeccable comedic timing is used to perfect effect in the Lily Allen-tinged Don’t Lose Ur Head. Natalie Paris showcases powerhouse vocals in Jane Seymour’s emotional Heart of Stone, which is contrasted beautifully by Alexia McIntosh’s spunky performance as Anna of Cleves. Vicki Manser brings Britney Spears-style bubblegum pop to All You Wanna Do, while Danielle Steers stuns with a mesmerising, soulful rendition of Catherine Parr’s I Don’t Need Your Love.
Every element of the staging blends the medieval with the modern perfectly, from Gabriella Slade’s punky corsets and bejewelled puff sleeves, to Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography which evokes classic girl group routines. Tim Deiling’s arena-spectacle lighting is matched with Emma Bailey’s intimate Tudor court set design.
It’s easy to say SIX is following Hamilton’s shadow – both shows shine a light on historical events through the gaze of the modern day. But SIX has a raw, cheeky, entirely British sensibility that makes it entirely unique from all other shows gracing the West End. If only I could hand out six stars!
Reviewed by Nathan Pearce
30 November 2019, Arts Theatre