REVIEW: SIX (ARTS Theatre) ★★★★

It would be very easy to describe ‘Six’ as an all-female Hamilton, and in many ways you can. However, there are alternative suggestions I’d come up with – an all-female Avengers, the rivals of Little Mix perhaps, or else an electro-pop hour long version of the Cell Block Tango.

‘Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.’ A line that kept repeating in many people’s minds during their GCSE History exams probably. ‘Six’ is about the six wives of Henry VIII, with each telling their own individual experience of their time with the infamous royal. Rather than long, historical poetry that needs to be repeated multiple times in order to understand the genius of it (i.e. ‘Hamilton’), ‘Six’ is meant for the Netflix generation. 75 minutes long, full of sassy, catchy pop songs with jokes and language tailored for the on-trend.

Each queen has their own signature sense of humour, style and song genre — if you’re a fan of German electro haus, you’re in luck! And whilst the script is highly relevant with its humour, it reminds you concisely of the history of each of the wives. Standing out amongst the incredibly strong sextet is Alexia McIntosh as Anne of Cleves who held my gaze throughout the show; her vocal tone is meant to storm into the charts right now. Millie O’Connell as Anne Boleyn was hugely funny too with her Lily Allen-esque song and straight-up delivery with her lyrics.

It’s hard to believe the rush of success this show has had when it actually started out as a student production at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. As such, in order to break into a larger West End space it requires higher production values. I emphasise on the instrumentation and musical arrangements which can easily be enhanced it to get to the same level as some of today’s pop music. This is the main selling point of the show after all. I also wonder whether the show’s consistent breaking of the fourth wall works perfectly for places like the Edinburgh Fringe, but not so here.

However, from the look of the die-hard fans who had already seen the show multiple times since the start of the run a week ago, it needn’t change too much. Some of the fans in the front row were giving out roses and wanting to take selfies whilst the cast were on stage. The show doesn’t need Henry on stage, nor does it need to be elongated or let each of the wives have another song.

In a time of social change and a push for gender equality growing greater than ever, ‘Six’ is a much-needed wave of female force and empowerment that’ll leave you heading straight to Spotify afterwards to stream the soundtrack. Catch it while you can at the Arts before it performs to audiences ten times bigger.

Reviewed by Barry O’Reilly
Photo: Idil Sukan

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