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REVIEW: Six shows a new side to Henry VIII’s wives

PUBLISHED: 08:48 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:48 12 July 2018

The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018

The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

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Six - Norwich Playhouse

The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

We all remember the little rhyme about the wives of Henry VIII: ‘Divorced, beheaded, died, Divorced, beheaded, survived.’

But what are the stories of the women themselves?

Are they to be pitied or celebrated? And isn’t it funny, that we can’t remember the names of the spouses of the other King Henries - Henry IV? Henry II? Don’t have any rhymes about them, do we?

Henry VIII’s wives have grabbed our imagination down the years. Perhaps there is a good reason for that.

The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018The cast of Six visiting Tudor Norwich at The Maids Head Hotel. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

As imagined by co-writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, these are exceptional women that put their mark on history.

The ladies have girl power to rival the Spice Girls, and more punch than the whole #MeToo movement.

They celebrate their lives in a pumped-up marathon of anthems which tell their tales in boldly coined catchphrases.

Anne Boleyn sums up the Reformation she triggered in the lines: ‘Everybody chill - It’s totes God’s will’.

And yet, despite the bravado, each of them feels trapped in Henry’s shadow.

When the lights go up, they are all competing for the role of leading lady.

They think that they will earn the right to the most fame by proving that they are the King’s greatest victim.

In a furious race to the limelight, they each try to extract the most pathos from the audience.

But as the evening warms up, with light show and a thumping sound-track, they prove that they are the masters of their own fate.

And when they stop fighting and bickering about men, they are unbelievably strong. This is not ‘History’ it’s ‘Herstory’ - and they are determined to tell it the way it was for them.

It is an ambitious ask for a 75 minute piece.

But, just like the Reduced Shakespeare Company, this breezy and humorous re-imagining of familiar characters and events, allows us to think again about stories we thought we knew.

Eve Stebbing


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