Theatre review: Six, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s just two years since the musical Six made its first appearance on the Edinburgh Fringe; yet in that short time – backed by an original cast recording released a few months later – it has become a transatlantic phenomenon, famous enough to pack the Theatre Royal with a roaring mainly-female audience of all ages, for a solid week of performances.
The cast of Six PIC: Johan PerssonThe cast of Six PIC: Johan Persson
The cast of Six PIC: Johan Persson

Written by then Cambridge students Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the show is essentially a song-cycle based on the old rhyme about the wives of Henry VIII – divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.  It takes the form of a glitzy TV talent show with a live all-female band, in which the six wives – gorgeous young things glammed up in a spiky postmodern version of Tudor fashion - start out by competing, through song, over who had it worst from Henry; but eventually, in a predictable but enjoyable conversion to the joys of girl power, decide to co-operate and celebrate, rather than compete.  

Apart from the sharp concept and stylish look of the thing, the real power behind this 80-minute smash-hit lies in its witty and powerful songs, which range across musical styles from hip-hop and rap to the dying Jane Seymour’s Whitney Houston-style aria; there’s plenty of Tinder-style fun to be had from the failed wooing of Anne of Cleves, who “did not look like my profile pic”.

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Six is short, it’s vivid, and this fine touring cast give it hell; and if it belongs too much to the #metoo moment to have real 
long-term staying-power, it still delivers a terrific night out, for the half-decade we live in. Joyce McMillan

Theatre Royal, run completed; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 4-9 February