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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Six Ways

Selladoor Theatre

Venue: George Square 2


Low Down

With well put together new musicals on the up, the face of British musical theatre is changing and Six Ways is at the heart of that change. This isn’t groundbreaking new stuff, nor is it hard hitting, or shocking, however it is well produced, new, and to a degree original musical theatre. Six Ways follows the lives of 3 relationships, 6 people all interconnected in simple but unusual ways. At first it feels like we have entered a dated Jason Robert Brown musical and yet all fears of this are wiped following the first number, and secretly is this such a bad thing, after all the man is a genius and really you have only made it when people start to follow your influences.




Selladoor is a company of very young performers, some of whom haven’t even graduated from drama school yet, but we are seeing the future of musical theatre and what a future it is.  Playing parts that involve breakdown in relationships and dealing with that require a level of life experience that doesn’t quite always appear behind the songs younger performers sing. Yet in Six Ways the actors defy this and gel as an ensemble and soar individually flying through this superbly structured new musical with passion and heart.


Although this is clearly an ensemble piece, certain characters are definitely more developed than others. As a result a stand-out performance comes from Sam Thackray, whose drag act as female impersonator Daryl, coupled with a fantastic parody of musicals as he sings about why there are no songs for a ‘woman’ like him is well put together and receives raucous laughter and well deserved rousing applause. Yet he is also marvellous out of drag conveying his character’s two personas beautifully. Victoria Hardy, who plays his rising up the ranks politician wife has a strong voice and endearingly shows her character Diane’s rise to the top, peppered with mistakes and rocked by scandal, making her human and believable, but also fascinating to watch. This is a combination of excellent script and convincing performance.


All the couples are believable and real which makes Six Ways accessible and enjoyable to watch. A musical can easily be a mixed bag of good and bad songs or a weak storyline, but perhaps the considered intelligent content coupled with an excellent array of songs ensures Six Ways is never boring, and has the potential to go even further. The character are all written somewhat older than the actors who play them, and although the performers beautifully manage to make the characters their own, it would be exciting to see this show performed by actors who were slightly more mature. In saying this the strength of the musical allows it to be performed by both, highlighting the excellence of both the writing and direction.


Terri O’Ryan plays the paranoid, pregnant wife in a believable and frank manner and Paddy Clarke supports as the long suffering husband. Adam Search is excellent as the slightly misguided Chris who has a lovely wife but a habit for finding quick fix money to his own tragic downfall. All the characters have stand out moments where they break from the ensemble to shine alone, and Katie Bernstein owns the stage in her moment with her gut wrenching passion and grief filtering out of the song, while she maintains the ability to sing beautifully through it.


Innovatively directed, the space is well utilised, allowing all the couples to exist in the space in their different lives with a few effective props. There are smooth scene changes, a must as all the relationships interlink or overlap for various reasons. The live music is a strong element of what makes this musical professional and well produced. The live sound in the small space is a wonderful addition to the music and story. The ends tie up, or don’t and this fly on the wall hour snapshot into 6 people and their various lives, is nothing, but a pleasurable experience. Six Ways is enjoyable theatre, delivered at an outstanding standard with the right balance of light and dark content and definitely worthy of further development.






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