Six (Teen Edition)

Date 9th December 2023
Society Avocet Theatre Company
Venue Wykham Theatre, Banbury
Type of Production Musical
Director Ben Coleman
Musical Director Mo Westworth and Louise Nunneley
Choreographer Amelia Haverson
Written By Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow

Report

Author: Andrew Walter

This presentation of “Six” (Teen Edition) closed Avocet Theatre Company’s “TheatreFest Banbury”; the ambitious programme also included “Away in a Manager”, “One Night Only”, and a SEND workshop “Embrace the Stage”.

It’s amazing to think that “Six” only premiered six years ago, and in that time it has grown from a Cambridge University Musical Theatre commission at the Edinburgh Fringe to a global phenomenon.  The “Six” refers of course to the wives of Henry VIII – The Queens - and each is represented with a degree of historical accuracy blended with a large amount of artistic licence.  The show also draws heavily on more contemporary sources, and is presented in the style of a pop concert with hand-held mikes; each of the six Queens embodies characteristics of modern pop stars.  They spend much of the show arguing about who suffered the most at the hands of their common husband, before realising, in an uplifting expression of girl power, that they don’t need him to define or validate themselves.

It’s a wonderful showcase for young female performers, and ATC’s ensemble didn’t disappoint.  It was fitting, and perhaps inevitable, that the ensemble work was the most impressive aspect of this production.  The six individual performers could all sing and dance to a high standard, but put them together and their strong unison, accurate close harmonies and snappy, well-executed dance routines really had the wow factor.  The choreography was highly stylised and demandingly energetic, and it must have been a relief to the performers when the pace relented, even if only momentarily.

The setting comprised six portraits of the Queens displayed on easels, which provided a useful focus for “Haus of Holbein”.  The sound was distortion-free with strong bass, and the synchronisation between the accompaniment and the onstage performances was excellent.  The lighting design was very striking, with rows of forward-facing lights on the steps at the back of the stage, and intelligently-used moving head lamps on the back wall.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many lamps in the roof either!

Once again Avocet Theatre Company created something that was somehow even greater than the sum of its parts: the energy that radiated from the Wykham Theatre stage was quite incredible.