by Natalie Blain


Art & Culture October 5, 2018

Six is a production merging together all things pop music, girl power and millennial humour – telling a famous her-storical tale with an exciting twist.

The musical inspired by Henry VIII’s six wives plays on the rhyme that we were all taught in school, ‘Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived’.

Writers, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, tell stories of the past told using modern slang in the form of an all singing, all dancing, all-empowering battle to win over the audience. Each wife competes to win the vote of ‘who had it worse’, whilst also shining a light on the issues of how women are erased from history and only remembered when a man is involved.

Similarly to Beyoncé’s Live at Roseland concert, the stage’s set up was beaming with red and purple lighting, and no men in sight on stage and in the musical team with Alice Angliss on the drums; Guitarist, Amy Shaw; and Terri De Marco playing bass – giving the musical a real and authentic representation of positive female power.

The cast also draws influences from different female artists in the UK and US pop music industry such as Shakira, Lily Allen, Adele, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and Emeli Sande. All six queens: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr channel their inner pop stars with tales of lost love, abuse and betrayal at the hands of King Henry VIII.

The musical concert portrays a rollercoaster of emotions, making the audience cry with laughter in most scenes, and the occasional tear of sympathy and sadness when their stories go into more depth and detail.

The hilarious scenes consist of the German rave inspired number titled, ‘Haus of Holbein’ where the six wives all dress in glow in the dark green ruffs and raving sunglasses, to tell the story of how painter, Hans Holbein, showed paintings of different princesses from around the world to Henry VIII for him to pick from.

The production also provides the audience with funny facts and punchy one-liners – the funniest coming from second wife, Anne Boleyn (played by Millie O’Connell) when she reveals to having six fingernails; and Anna of Cleves (Alexia McIntosh), singing, “When he saw my portrait, he was like ‘Ja!’ But I didn’t look as good as I did in my pic, funny how we all discuss that, but never Henry’s little pr-“, which had everyone in stitches.

Female Sassitude was also another consistent feature throughout the whole production, with the performance of first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Jarneia Richard-Noel) and her display of frustration and objection to the King wanting to replace her with another wife to provide a male heir to the throne. The solo track ‘No Way’ reclaims her voice and anger towards Henry VIII, which is something that would have been impossible for a woman to express back in the 1500’s but made possible during this 75-minute concert.

The more emotive scenes come from the likes of Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard (played by Natalie Paris and Aimie Atkinson). Third wife, Jane, pulls on the audience’s heartstrings as she sings, “But I know, without my son your love could disappear and though it isn’t fair but I don’t care, cuz my love will still be there”. Whereas confident queen Katherine taunts the others with her beauty before revealing that all of the previous men in her life, including Henry, used and abused her – also leaving her with the feeling of complete vulnerability and powerlessness that women especially can easily relate to.

As the production nears the end, the message of feminism and equality between the queens becomes clearer after Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife, (played by Maiya Quansah-Breed) finishes up the singing battle with another slow tempo song about how she doesn’t need Henry’s love to survive in the world. The six wives’ realisation that they are better as a ‘girl band’ rounds up the message that girls should be taught to boost each other, rather than compete against each other.

Everything from their punky and fun period inspired costumes to their in-sync dance moves made the whole production a joy to watch from beginning to end. Each queen equally educates and inspires in a modern and empowering way that makes you understand that the women in history – many whom have been forgotten – are bigger bad ass’s than we were once made to believe.

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