Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Sweet Venues, Apex Hotel – until 28 August
5**** (because I can’t give 10)
I love musical theatre and I covered the Queens of Henry VIII as part of my History degree so I knew I would love this show – and I did.
With the tag line “Divorced … Beheaded … Live”, SiX tells the story of the unfortunate wives of Henry VIII now reformed as a girl group, embarking on a world tour.
Performed by students of the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society, this original new musical, co-written by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow, delivers a completely unforgettable history lesson. Jamie Armitage’s choreography sees the Queens dance in both Tudor and modern day style and they are supported by a live band. The costumes by Agnes Cameron are a modern twist of each Queens individuality and Jack Parham’s set is striking in its understatement
The Queens all compete to be the group’s lead by singing a song to show why they all suffered the most at the hands of their husband. Catherine of Aragon (Megan Gilbert) tells us how she was thrown over after 24 years of marriage because Henry was bored. Anne Boleyn (Ashleigh Weir) is sassy and manipulative but entertaining. Jane Seymore (Holly Musgrave) is heart wrenchingly sad when she tells us she never had the chance to see her son grow up. Anna of Cleeves (Matilda Wickham) was divorced because she wasn’t considered to be as beautiful as her portrait but now lives a happy quiet life of luxury. Katherine Howard (Annabel Marlow) sings how her youth and immaturity caused her to be little more than a plaything beheaded when Henry became bored with her and Catherine Parr (Shimali de Silva) told how she loved someone else but once Henry decided he wanted her, she had to give up her man and marry him instead.
With styles of music from Adele, Ariana Grande, German techno, Beyonce and more the songs were both historically accurate and lyrically poignant, whilst completely different – giving each Queen the individuality and character she deserved.
This was the ultimate in girl power with a thoroughly deserved standing ovation at the end. The lyrics are catchy and I’m still humming along to the show now. I desperately hope there is a soundtrack CD to accompany the production because I would be playing it all the time. This is a musical that deserves more than a month long run at the Fringe – this, unlike the wives, deserves a very long life