It took just 80 minutes on Tuesday evening, for King Henry VIII’s six wives to tell us how they really felt about their marriages to the Tudor royal.
They got their chance when the musical Six came to Hull New Theatre and, boy, they didn’t hold back.
In costumes to die for (no pun intended for the three wives who popped their clogs while married to the King), they burst onto the jazzily-lit stage eager to spill the royal beans, not in the language of old, but in today’s speak, thank goodness.
At first, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the glorious costumes – they really were fantastic with their amazing shapes, stiffening, glitter, shoulder pads, peplums, platform boots, fishnet tights, glow-in-the-dark ruffles and, on one occasion, modern sunglasses.
We all probably know the life order of Henry’s wives, with the rhyme “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived”. But the six queens thoughtfully stood on stage in the order of their time with the King – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr.
Catherine of Aragon, his longest-serving wife, couldn’t wait to air her grievances and Chlöe Hart did a fantastic job bringing the hard-done-to Queen to life. It was a close-run thing, but her costume was possibly my favourite.
Jennifer Caldwell beautifully portrayed Anne Boleyn, making us believe she was a little innocent who had no choice but to take Henry away from his long-suffering wife, a very different image of that written in most history books.
Next up was a genuine innocent in the guise of Jane Seymour, and Casey Al-Shaqsy convinced us that she really, really loved the King, singing “Jane Seymour, the only one he truly loved”.
Sadly, she didn’t have that long to prove her love as she died in childbirth.
That’s divorced, beheaded and died taken care of. Another divorcee steps up in the form of German-speaking Anna of Cleves (a very amusing performance by Aiesha Naomi Pease). This naughty little minx was my favourite character.
Pease perfectly portrayed an Anna who obviously knew which side her regal bread was buttered and wasn’t unduly bothered when the King divorced her.
I felt another beheading coming on and sure enough the promiscuous Katherine Howard (the pink-haired Jaina Brock-Patel) steps forward, admitting “I’m the Katherine who lost her head, For my promiscuity outside of wed”.
She looked so innocent, too!
Wife number six, Catherine Parr had Alana M Robinson belting out “Five down, I’m the final wife. I saw him to the end of his life”.
These crazy gals – backed by catchy music played by four talented, on-stage musicians – sang and danced their hearts out with a very lively song list including tunes such as Don’t Lose Ur Head, Heart of Stone and SIX.
Aided and abetted by a sparkling stage setting, with no interval, they created havoc on stage with their energy, bawdy humour and loud, tuneful singing voices.
King Henry VIII would have probably been turning in his grave, but the audience lapped up every minute. Oh, to be on a girlie night out with these six!
Running until Sunday, April 10th, 2022, 8pm nightly on Wednesday, 6th and Thursday, 7th; 6pm and 8.30pm on Friday, 8th and Saturday, 9th; 2.30pm on Sunday, 10th. Tickets from £15. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 5th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★