The experience that SIX offers its audience is unparalleled. It is rare to step foot in a theatre where the audience spends the majority of its time on its feet, dancing, laughing and singing along to this iconic production. I was fortunate enough to see this when it re-opened in London at the Arts Theatre back in 2019. In two years, SIX is on its way to becoming an icon that rivals that of the most longstanding shows and is such through its unique character and unapologetic middle-finger to everything society did (and still does) dictate as convention.
To reflect the above, SIX is not a subtle performance – neither in vocals, nor costume, nor commentary. Taking a concert format, each queen battles it out to determine who had the toughest time living as Henry VIII’s wife. Each wife is distinct in voice and distinct in personality, as should be the case when giving a platform to historical female figures that are so often overlooked. Despite trying to outshine each other, SIX is, in actuality, a lesson about coming together to illustrate the power of female solidarity.
Born out of the creative genius of Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the music of SIX is inspired by the styles of various female vocal artists: Shakira, Lily Allen and Adele, to name a few. There is a style for everyone, meaning everyone will find their favourite anthem to singalong to. These differences are also reflected in the emotion conveyed. For example, take the shift from Anne Boleyn to Jane Seymour: the first has you hysterically laughing and the latter brings genuine tears to your eyes. In a performance that is, for the most part, upbeat and effervescent, Collete Guitart absolutely holds her own as Jane Seymour. Often, a ballad can be lost or rendered insignificant alongside bolder songs but, just like the queens, this is certainly not the case here.
Gabriella Slade’s costume designs perfectly capture the outlandish personalities and brashness of each queen. They are neon and diamante studded period dresses, giving a modern empowerment to figures of history. The staging is simple, yet effective, with the band (ladies in waiting) situated on stage as would be the case in a true concert.
Ultimately, this is an intimate and riotous evening. Experienced within a theatre rammed full of the Queendom community, there is no night quite as uplifting as one spent watching SIX.
By: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directors: Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
Cast includes: Jarneia Richard-Noel, Courtney Bowman, Collette Guitart, Cherelle Jay, Sophie Isaacs and Hana Stewart
Running time: 80 minutes without an interval