“I’d see that again anytime. I loved it. Absolutely loved it,” my teenage daughter told me, uncharacteristically jubilant.
We’d all given it a standing ovation, all clapped and sung, and even thrust along in time to the music. It does that to you.
Sold out almost before it was announced, Six took London’s West End by storm, triumphed on Broadway and transformed into a global sensation, nominated for every award under the sun.
Short, sweet and no less powerful for it, it’s obvious why SIX was one of the fastest selling shows in the Oxford Playhouse’s history
And yet, before SIX first opened at Edinburgh Fringe, written by Lucy Moss and Oxfordshire’s own Toby Marlow while they were students at Cambridge Uni, its future looked unlikely. Now it is a world-wide phenomenon.
No one it seems is immune to the charms of these six sensational singers and their tangible story, currently on tour, from the old fellas clapping away enthusiastically in the aisles of the Oxford Playhouse to a new generation of empowered girls up late on a school night.
We were all there to witness something new, something epic – a musical, staged like a concert, that not only socked it to us, but taught us something at the same time, dare I say it educated us, and then let us make an informed decision, before reminding us not to be judgemental and that we are more powerful together than apart. Here ye!
And yet it shouldn’t work. The six wives of Henry VIII in a singing competition Divorced Beheaded Live! You can almost hear the show’s creators trying to sell the concert to a disbelieving audience.
For one, we’ve all heard the story before, every child in the land was brought up on tales of the egomaniac English king and his appetitive for matrimony. But brought into the modern age with twerking and rap, jewelled bikinis and attitude. Really?
Really yes. Absolutely. Every second of the way through. We were in from the word go as they bounced on stage like bona fide rocks stars, the all powerful, empowered girl band – ready to say it like it is and give it to us. And boy did they. The lungs on those six lasses defied belief. What voices.
Each tells their tale, each has a song and a style, all have sympathy. From the Spanish Catherine of Arogan (Lauren Drew), passed from brother to brother, betrayed and then retired in favour of the Lilly Allen-esque Anne Boleyn (Maddison Bulleyment), whose beheading always trumps her colleagues until we get to Katherine Howard’s (Jodie Steele) description of her abuse and sexualisation from a young age.
The sage Jane Seymour (Lauren Byrne) who died in childbirth, yet adored the king, and onto Anne of Cleves (Shekinah McFarlane) who was eventually discounted from the competition for enjoyment of her divorce and its newfound status of riches, freedom and palaces. And finally to Catherine Parr (Athena Collins), ripped from her one true love to care for a crotchety, dying old man.
It is she who turns the bitching, competitive nature of the queens, into something more unified, from victims into women in charge of their own truth, if not their own destinies, as an hour and ten minutes later we are brought to our feet for a standing ovation.
Short, sweet and no less powerful for it, it’s obvious why SIX was one of the fastest selling shows in the Oxford Playhouse’s history.
The sold out SIX is at Oxford Playhouse until Saturday. 01865 305305 or oxfordplayhouse.com