He and Moss also wanted their cast to reflect the world by ensuring it didn’t fall into the musical theatre trap of treating whiteness as the default.
“When you open up the auditions and encourage diversity in the audition rooms,” says Marlow, “and then you look for the best people – naturally it is a diverse result.”
Through fleshing out the concept of SIX for the Fringe, and later developing it to play bigger stages like the West End, Broadway, and the Sydney Opera House, Marlow and Moss became passionate about the six wives, and about putting their stories back where they belonged.
“These six women are reclaiming the narrative for themselves not through a patriarchal lens but a revisionist feminist lens – taking their space,” Marlow says.
In the light-hearted style of a musical performance competition, SIX challenges each ex-wife, as they’re called in the show, to share their sides of the story. Each number is filled with love, loss, pride, anger, and guilt. Marlow and Moss rely on musical shorthand, witticisms and modern references to give us insight into their complicated inner lives and fraught ends.
We’re used to bringing history alive through music in this way.
For many Australians, this slice of history has always been musical. There are the ice cream trucks that play Greensleeves, the traditional English ballad often associated with Anne Boleyn, and we play host to the perpetual tours of British band Herman’s Hermits, whose cheesy proto-punk track ‘I’m Henry VIII, I am’ endures as a novelty hit and a drinking song.
The songs of SIX reflect the values of a new generation, who look at this once tragic story as a catchcry for autonomy and a sense of long-denied validation.