“one of the hottest shows on right now, created by brilliant, talented young artists who are shaking up the West End”
The 2019 Olivier Awards nominations were announced yesterday, with Six up for five. For a student-created show that debuted at Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, Six has skyrocketed to the highest ranks of London theatre. The performance starring all six of Henry VIII’s wives joins Come from Away, Tina, and Fun Home in the Olivier category for Best New Musical. These are the biggest players in the West End, and Six has incredibly but undeniably earned its place among them.
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, Six is not like musicals you’ve seen before. Framed as a pop concert/X Factor competition, the ex-queens take turns singing their stories, all vying for the title of Who Had It Worst with the infamously bad-tempered King Henry. Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. The six songs are as different as the six women. Marlow and Moss cover the range of pop, drawing influence from modern queens Beyoncé, Adele, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Lilly Allen, and Alicia Keys. Genuinely hit-worthy music, beyond-clever lyrics (rapid-fire historical references spun with millennial-modern allusions), and knock-out performances (from the queens as well as their all-female live band) combine to create a formidable new contender on the musical scene.
Jarneia Richard-Noel (Catherine of Aragon), Millie O’Connell (Anne Boleyn), Natalie Paris (Jane Seymour), Alexia McIntosh (Anna of Cleves), Aimie Atkinson (Katherine Howard), and Maiya Quansah-Breed (Catherine Parr) rock the glittered combat boots and Tudor-punk, power-glam outfits that have earned Gabriella Slade an Olivier nomination for Best Costume Design. The queens belt out their songs and slay their choreography with the same energy you’d expect from the real-life divas who inspired them. McIntosh stands out for her excellent comedic presence.
Although it may seem dubious, considering the premise involves Henry’s wives competing over who had the worst marriage, the show is undoubtedly feminist. The six women take the microphone to reclaim their stories – to give their perspectives, which have been left out of the history books. That they all perform as each other’s supporting vocals and backup dancers effectively reveals the facetious nature of their rivalry. They’re really a team. And although they only come to this realisation in the end, the show spends the whole time arguing they were people, not just wives.
Six is largely tongue-in-cheek. It’s funny and fun more than it’s informative. The whole thing is joyously playful, surprisingly fresh, and wildly entertaining. There’s a delightful, amateurish silliness to the concept, which seems to stem from a couple of sleep-deprived students procrastinating their History final. (Recent Cambridge grads Marlow and Moss wrote the play during their exams).
Six has had an incredible journey, from its beginnings at Edinburgh Fringe just two years ago, to the five Olivier nominations it received yesterday. This is one of the hottest shows on right now, created by brilliant, talented young artists who are shaking up the West End.
Our reviewer Claire Minnitt had a whistle-stop visit to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, here’s her top five shows she managed to see …
It’s that time of year once again, where the majestic city of Edinburgh is brimming with an immense assortment of creative endeavours from all over the world. Regular Fringe-goers have their own method of navigating through thousands of shows, many meticulously sticking to an almost militaristic itinerary. Whilst this may work for some, I have to say such methodology does not suit me and I therefore vowed this year to enjoy my brief five-day visit by basing my show choices purely on recommendations from friends, those who successfully pitched along the Mile and ones I simply stumbled across by sheer chance. Hence, here are my following Top 5 Edinburgh Fringe 2018 shows in no particular order.
Who: SKaGeN/KVS, Big in Belgium, Richard Jordan Productions, TRP, Summerhall
When: 12:00 / Aug 19, 21-26
Where: Summerhall (Venue 26)
‘Today we give you the all-time politician: the power junkie, rogue, strategist, but also the husband, father and in the end, the very lonely human’
Originally titled ‘Onbezongen’ before being directly translated from Flemish into English for the Fringe, Unsung is an innovative piece exploring the ‘DNA of the politician.’ Taking inspiration from an array of existing political figures Valentijn Dhaenens presents the audience with in-depth view of the life of a politician. Unsung has been incredibly successful in Belgium and has now continues to captivate Edinburgh audiences.
Hot Gay Time Machine
Who: Zak Ghazi-Torbatti, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
When: 22:00 / Aug 19-26
Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)
‘Hot Gay Time Machine covers all the most important moments in a gay man’s life, from coming out to your mum to trying not to look at cocks in the locker room. So what are you waiting for? Gay marriage? Well, we got that already so come party with the gays’
Returning after an award-winning debut at the Fringe last year, Hot Gay Time Machine takes the audience on the most intensely musical journey through all the milestones in a gay man’s life. This incredibly cheeky show is bursting with energy, countless laughs and copious amounts of fun. It’s a guaranteed party-starter equipped with a beautiful poignancy that tackles important LGBT issues.
Who: Kenny Wax and Global Musicals
When: 15:30, 19:30 / Aug 19-27
Where: Underbelly, George Square (Venue 300)
‘Divorced. Beheaded. Live in concert!’
Whilst previously reviewed by thespyinthestalls.com earlier this year, it was such a joy to see this show in one of the Fringe’s more prominent venues. The original show has already made quite an impact at this year’s festival, and subsequently will immediately be transferred to London’s Arts Theatre at the end of the month. Six reclaims the stories of Henry VIII’s wives and is retold through a series of original songs in the forum of a pop concert.
Think Little Mix meets Horrible Histories but much, MUCH better! It’s definitely not one to miss.
Six is at the Arts Theatre, London from 30th August until 23rd September, click on image below for further details
Lola and Jo: Focus Groupies
Who: Berk’s Nest
When: 16:00 / Aug 19-26
Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)
‘Research purpose only; no refreshments, travel reimbursements or life-affirming insights. Laughter not guaranteed’
Lola and Jo are the ultimate female comedy duo you had no idea you needed in your life until you see one of their shows. Focus Groupies is a cleverly written sketch-show with an abundance of laughs, drizzled with the perfect amount of audience participation. It was so enjoyable that I felt obliged to drag my friends who had not yet been just so I could see it for a second time!
The Durham Revue present: Zeitgeist
Who: The Durham Revue
When: 13:20 / Aug 19 – 26
Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)
‘Known for their irreverent style and peerless chemistry, they are ‘highly professional, wonderfully witty and perfectly paced’’
It is a universal fact that there is no shortage of sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe however, well-established student group, The Durham Revue in many ways rises above the others. Their sketches are punchy, topical and often beautifully bizarre. Additionally, it’s rather refreshing to a see a young comedy group with strong performances from both the female and male members. With performances in the early afternoon it’s certainly a perfect start to your typical Fringe day.