Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I have felt for a very long time like I was the only person in the world who hadn’t seen this musical. Trust me, I’ve tried, but covid had other plans. My delight when asked to review it was not pretty: it involved much whooping and a little overhelmed sob. But, as the day approached I was little anxious about whether it was going to live up to everything I’d read and heard. Live up to the hype? OMG: lived up to and sky rocketed above any expectations I had. Absolutely outstanding, like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’m going back for more, without a doubt.
A show about women, by women, empowering women, telling the tale of women, but not just for women. I took my 70 year old dad with me and he is equally as excited about this show as I am!
History/herstory, it’s a must see for all.
The show is based on the lives of Henry VIII wives, all six of them. The staging is that of a pop concert where the Queens use songs to compete to prove that they are infact the most important and tragic wife of Henry VIII – there are no set changes, no costume changes, no time off stage for the characters or musicians. What you see is what you get. And what you get is phenomenal. It is no wonder that this has become a global sensation.
So much of our history is dominated by men, and the role of women can often be depicting them as villains or muses or meek and mild. This show is ripping up those history books and reclaiming the stories of these six women. The parallels to modern life, divorces played out in court rooms, the media, the use of social media, is uncanny.
Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss are a force to be reckoned with. The lyrics to the songs are modern, engaging and hilarious and at times very raw and vulnerable. The music is class, melodious, banging, brazen, comical, classical, it’s like nothing I’ve seen before. This show was written by these two, then undergraduate students, and first appeared at the fringe in Edinburgh and tonight it was in the lyric theatre in Salford with the audience on its feet in absolute awe of this show.
And what makes this show the most incredible show I’ve seen is also this dynamic and talented cast. Each “Queen” brings something different, both in character performances and talent.
Catherine Aragon is played by Chloe Hart and this woman took by breath away. She is fearless, sassy and bold in her performance. She was a stand out performer for me and my absolute Queen!
Anne Boleyn is played by Jennifer Caldwell, who is hilarious throughout the entire show, reminding us time and time ago that she was behedded, a fact that entertains the audience again and again. Her performance of “Don’t Lose Your Head” was flawless.
Casey Al-Shaqsy plays Jane Seymour and her note perfect, raw performance of “Heart of Stone” was moving and showed the great vulnerability of a character who often we consider to be the lucky one. Once again showing us that a male narrative of historical events can omit the struggle of women through history.
Jessica Niles plays Anna of Cleves. Her and the company’s introduction to her character through the magnificent number “House of Holbein” is exquisite. It is for me, the cleverest number in the whole production. The fact that her story is told by using online dating sites to help us understand her story is ingenious. Niles’ goes on to deliver a brilliant performance of the number “Get Down” showing us an insight into the life of Anna from a whole new perspective.
Katherine Howard is played by Leesa Tulley, who is magical in her performance of “All You Wanna Do” – it’s very, very Brittney – if not a more polished version! With the Me Too movement this highlighted that it has been a struggle faced by women for centuries – literally!
And our last queen – Catherine Parr played by the mighty Alana M Robinson. The Queen who makes the show stop and reevaluate it’s narrative – bringing together the women to support and empower each other. And all this done while busting some moves and hitting all of the high notes.
Six is the show of the moment and for many many good reasons. This show is helping to cultivate a new intelligent form of theatre for future generations. It is a show that has longevity, that will be talked about over and over, a show that we will encourage each other to go and see, the show we will go and see again and again. All of this because it’s well staged, beautifully and cleverly written and because this cast and the casts before it and the casts that will come after it will engage us and inspire us and educate us. Yes it’s all women but it’s not just for women, it’s a show for all. You might have forgotten what you learnt about Henry at school – you won’t forget about what you learnt about these woman in this show.
SIX is on at The Lowry until Sunday 14th August tickets available here.