Book, Music and Lyrics- Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directors- Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
The SIX phenomenon continues apace, entering its fourth year in the West End and sixth year since its first production at the Edinburgh Fringe, and has once again refreshed its cast. Perhaps notable here is that the show is two of the Queens’ West End debut: a fact that you wouldn’t believe if you didn’t read it in the programme. Once again the production has delivered an all-singing, all-dancing, fantastically talented cast.
SIX acts as a concert/competition starring the six wives of Henry the Eighth, combining noughties pop, Horrible Histories history and slightly out-of-date girlboss feminism into the mix. The structure allows each cast member to be a star, as well as highlighting the onstage band, whilst exploring themes of patriarchal control, martial freedom, sexual suppression and whether we can ever rewrite our histories.
Toby Marlow’s score is strong but preserves a particular pop music style in aspic, and it will be interesting to see how it does, or doesn’t, date. The book allows for both comedic, catty interplay between the Queens and moments of pathos as they realise they are stronger together.
The six new Queens manage to both overcome the flaws of the book and completely sell the songs, as well as balancing the comedic/tragic elements. Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky does much with the underwritten part of Catherine of Aragon, whilst Baylie Carson brings wit and naughtiness to Anne Boleyn. Claudia Kariuki has perhaps the best vocal showcase in Jane Seymour’s powerful ballad, but also demonstrates a strong comic range. Dionne Ward-Anderson’s Get Down is the best song in the show and she sells it completely. Koko Basigara moves Catherine Howard from an Ariana Grande pastiche to an increasingly grim yet poppy depiction of abuse. Roxanne Couch’s Catherine Parr brings everything together beautifully. Each performer is utterly committed to their role, has strong comic timing, and forms a strong ensemble and effective solo presence.
SIX continues its reign at the top of the West End court: a peppy and invigorating show with an enjoyable score, it is bolstered by yet another group of fantastic performers whose comic talent and vocal panache carry the night.
Booking until 29 October 2023