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.
Six, Theatre Royal, Glasgow ****
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”.
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