Six the Musical


Udderbelly, Edinburgh

The infamous purple cow is rammed to capacity tonight and, as the performers walk on, the audience response is loud and enthusiastic. The cast of Six set about giving it all they’ve got and, from the first bars of the opening song, it’s clear that they have the crowd in the palms of their hands. Every Fringe seems to yield a runaway hit and this year, Six seems to be the hottest ticket around.

It’s always gratifying when a show this successful turns out to be so good – trust me, it isn’t always the case. Six is an inventive and exuberant pop-opera, which focuses on the wives of Henry VIII. As one character points out, we’ve only heard of them because they had the misfortune to marry the same man, so they are here to set a few things straight. We are throughly entertained by this show, but we are also informed at the same time, learning things about these women that we really didn’t know. Just think of it as at the most vibrant history lesson you’ve ever experienced and you’ve pretty much got the measure of it.

The six women are augmented by a superb four piece female band. Things kick off with an ensemble song that features a killer hook of a chorus and then, each of the wives in turn submits a solo piece, all of them vying to be voted ‘the best’ of the Queens. They are all exceptionally talented performers (far too good to single out a particular favourite) but, for the record, they are: Jameia Richard-Noel (Katherine 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).

The excellent band powers effortlessly through a whole range of different musical styles, from straight pop to power ballad, from soul to Germanic disco. The songs, by Lucy Moss and Tony Marlowe, feature witty lyrics which relate the women’s experiences in modern day terms. There’s much talk of Snapchat and profile pictures (the latter painted by Hans Holbein, of course) and, by the time the performers hit their final crescendo, the entire crowd is clapping and stamping along in a frenzy.

I fully expect to see this expanded and transformed into a West End smash. (If it doesn’t happen, somebody’s missing a trick.) I just hope nobody spoils it by bringing in Henry himself. This is a staunchly feminist piece and should be allowed to remain so. And anyway, we all know for too much about the King.

For the time being, if you can buy, beg, borrow or steal a ticket for this wonderful show, then do so.

It really is that good.

5 stars

Philip Caveney


The Mr. G Summer Heights High Singalong



Udderbelly, George Square Gardens, Edinburgh

I am really excited about this event; Summer Heights High is a finely crafted piece of observational comedy and I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit.

And it starts well: the crowd is giddy; we are all given Mr G masks; some people are even in costume – and it’s lovely to see that Lou Sanders is our host for the night; we really enjoyed her 2015 Fringe show and are hoping we’ll be able to find the time to make it along to this year’s (What’s That Lady Doing? 20.10 each evening in the Pleasance Dome).

But sadly, the show doesn’t really work. There’s a technical failure (the screen goes blank for a good ten minutes and we lose a section, because there’s no time to rewind). But this isn’t the biggest issue. The real problem is the nature of the programme itself: it doesn’t work as a singalong. There are no full length songs at all, just snippets and odd lines, cleverly giving the impression – when you’re watching the series – of a complete school musical, but simply inadequate for a satisfying communal karaoke.

It’s a shame, but the excitement soon abates and the atmosphere is leaden. Even the appearance of a Celine lookalike, surely designed to wow the punters, fails to dispel the general sense of disappointment. Sanders does her best to keep the audience engaged but she’s fighting a losing battle, and it’s a subdued crowd that leaves the Udderbelly at 1 am.

It’s still a brilliant TV show though.

2.8 stars

Susan Singfield