Review | West End smash hit Six at Chichester Festival Theatre: 'Theatrically, the piece disappoints'

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SIX, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s take on the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII, has hove-to at the Chichester Festival Theatre for a brief stay.

The show itself already has a mighty reputation and very varied fan-base – the audience at the Festival Theatre was very different to the standard Chichester crowd – and the whole thing had the feel of a Spice Girls gig before the show even started. Making its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, it has gone on to have successful runs in the West End and on Broadway.

It purports to be a competition between Henry’s queens to establish which of them is the top, the best, the number one of Henry’s gals with each pitching their case in turn. It’s a premise as thin as ice on an August afternoon and the meat on the show’s bones – the musical numbers – are also thin with forgettable melodies and banal lyrics.

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Six is at Chichester Festival theatre from November 22-27, 2022Six is at Chichester Festival theatre from November 22-27, 2022
Six is at Chichester Festival theatre from November 22-27, 2022

The saving grace, here, is the performers. The cast of (unsurprisingly) six comprises Chloe Hart (Aragon), Jennifer Caldwell (Boleyn), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Seymour), Jessica Niles (Cleves), Rebecca Wickes (cover on for Howard) and Alana M Robinson (Parr) and the musicians backing them – Caitlin Morgan (keyboards), Migdalia Van Der Hoven (drums), Laura Browne (guitar) and Ashely Young (bass) – all of whom are uniformly slick and brilliant. Vocals are astonishing; dancing is complex and superbly executed. The lighting and sound, again more gig-like than theatrical are, likewise, brilliant.

There’s an argument that anything that gets a younger audience into a theatre is a good thing, developing a habit for the future, but this isn’t Theatre (with a capital T) – it’s a pop gig and sets a false theatrical expectation. It is, therefore, theatrically, that the piece itself that disappoints. Examine it too closely and its faults are apparent. Good theatre should endure. This is too of-its-time to have much of a shelf-life. The language, the imagery, the music are very 2020s and one can’t help but feel that, style being a fickle mistress, 30 years from now people will find little to connect with, little to interest them.

Until November 27.