BWW Review: THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, King's Head Theatre
After the press murders their Richard III and everything seems lost, Stu McLoughlin notices that Howard Coggins looks like former King of England Henry VIII. What ensues is a hilariously impertinent, rude, crass, and occasionally blasphemous revision of history. Think of Six, turn it upside down, add a couple of hysterical jokes, and you'll have The Six Wives of Henry VIII. The result is glorious.
Coggins and McLoughlin's play is actually the OG Tudor phenomenon, dating back to 2012 when they debuted their array of queens in Bristol. In just over one hour they roast each other and their historical figures, they sing, and they deliver an unpretentious and genuinely funny piece of theatre. Director Craig Edwards keeps a tight leash on the portrayals, and neither McLoughlin's cross-dressing nor the bemusing modernisations become the proper butt of the joke.
Unflappable in their gags and confident in their humour, the duo's personal banter is as absorbing as their introductions to the queen consorts. The brazen six have to come to terms with a brutally uncaring Henry, unloved by his father and quite alright at cross-stitching. From setting up a talent show to find the new Archbishop of Canterbury to Katherine Howard's having to take a polygraph, nothing is ever overly vulgar or insulting - almost as if the production was shrouded with veiled respect.
Still, The Six Wives of Henry VIII remains a cheeky, saucy, gossipy, and thoroughly entertaining comedy that doesn't pretend to be anything else.
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