Six (Vaudeville Theatre London)


Verdict: Henry beware!

Seven Pomegranate Seeds (Rose Theatre Kingston).


Verdict: Strange Fruit

Alpha males should be avoided by ladies. Since time immemorial they’ve been nothing but trouble — all the more so when they’re robed in wealth or power.

Henry VIII is a great example of such a person who was worth noting, as Six from the West End makes clear.

But Alpha malpractice has an ignoble history that goes right back to Greek mythology — as illustrated in another show, The Seven Pomegranate Seeds in Kingston upon Thames.

Six has great fun with the topic. It’s part pop concert and beauty pageant. This mock-Tudor Love Island fuses The Spice Girls with Horrible Histories. Henry’s six wives battle it out to find who gets the worst treatment. Toby Marlow or Lucy Moss put it this way: “You’re going to find out what we did to get unfriended.”

Part pop concert, part beauty pageant, it's a mock-Tudor Love Island, fusing The Spice Girls with Horrible Histories as Henry's six wives go head to head to see who got the worst treatment

It’s part pop concert and beauty pageant. A mock-Tudor Love Island fuses The Spice Girls with Horrible Histories. Henry’s six wives face off to determine who received the worst treatment.

“No Way-ay !’).” is the best song. Jarneia Rich-Noel continues to sing as Catherine of Aragon with Beyonce-style defiance, while Collette Guitart plays Jane Seymour the night I watched.

Courtney Bowman’s Anne Boleyn won my vote as the most difficult luck story in Don’t Lose Ur Head. She keeps reminding us that it is difficult to beat decapitation, so to speak.

The rest of the set is full of synthetic pop. This includes Haus of Holbein (house-music) which takes on Eurovision pastiche. The set ends with Hana Stewart and Catherine Parr performing a Hamilton-ian powerballad, I Don’t Need Your Love.

It’s a spectacle of high-quality kitsch. The costumes feature miniskirts with sequins, and are topped off by fishnet stockings and spikey tiaras. It is a show that has become very unique because of its lighting and snappy choreography.

Mystical: Niamh Cusack, Seven Pomegranate Seeds

All of these, I must admit, did not result in me regrowing any of my hair. If you can bring a whole house of women to your feet every night like these ladies, then you are doing something right. They need more girl power!

In a serious look at the defiance and suffering of women throughout the centuries, Niamh Cusack is starring alongside Shannon Hayes. Colin Teevan’s The Seven Pomegranate Seeds reunites Greek myths and modern scenarios.

The story begins with Persephone’s abduction from Yorkshire by Hades. She is now in the Underworld. Alcestis is a wife to the god Hades, who has now agreed to become an organ donor. Medea was gaslighted in the Midlands.

Melly Still, the director weaves together these threads to create an ingenious but simple production that makes use of Rose’s warehouse-like space as if it was a place beyond time. You can see the storylines in strings that reach from ceiling to ceiling, as well as suspend props, on the stage.

The screen is made of baking parchment and projections from the rear of the stage are distracting. Cusack (playing both male and female roles) is what really dominates. Hayes and Cusack complement each other well. Cusack, who is loose and impulsive but high-energy, is Hayes, while Hayes, on the other hand, is controlled, direct, and simple.

It takes some effort to find the connections that Teevan suggests, but you will feel a greater sense of hope and faith for human resilience.

Behind the moustache: The man who actually does it

David Suchet: The Poirot You can also find more information on the tour


Verdict: Beyond the Belgian

To sofa-dwellers, David Suchet — Sir David for a year now — is the living embodiment of Inspector Poirot.

Suchet is not just a moustachioed Belgian police detective. He reminds us of this in a less theatrical interview than an actual show with Geoffrey Wansell.

Poirot’s twinkles are the same as Poirot’s but he is larger and more open, jumping up to do the soft-shoe dance that his granny (a music-hall dancer) taught him.

His mum and she were delighted that he joined her on the boards. His Harley Street father, a gynaecologist, was not as supportive until he joined Royal Shakespeare Company.

To sofa-dwellers, David Suchet — Sir David for a year now — is the living embodiment of Inspector Poirot. But there is more to Suchet than the moustachioed Belgian detective, as he reminds us in what is less a show than a scripted interview with his old chum, Geoffrey Wansell

To sofa-dwellers, David Suchet — Sir David for a year now — is the living embodiment of Inspector Poirot. Suchet is not just a moustachioed Belgian police detective. He reminds us of this in a short interview that is less than a sit-com and more like a conversation with Geoffrey Wansell.

Suchet admitted that Poirot’s death after 24 years of watching 70 episodes over the past 25 years was like “killing off my best friends”. There is no soul-searching or backstage gossip. It was a series of gleeful reenactments. The best part of the episode is Prince Philip’s demonstration of how to cut a mango. Suchet thought it was pure Poirot so he made an episode. 

And when he turned up in his rugger strip to his first movement class at drama school and was issued with a leotard and ‘dance belt’ — a brave new world to this public schoolboy.

A brief masterclass by Suchet shows how to interpret Shakespeare’s Iambic pentameter into emotional cues.

He learned the trick of mincing by holding a penny between his cheeks and his bum, which was borrowed from Laurence Olivier.

Suchet believes that the secret to any character is the ability to find the right voice. Poirot isn’t real from the neck down. So he determined to raise his voice in an effort to become Agatha Christie’s ‘walking brain. Et voila! A delight. 

Poirot And More, A Retrospective is on tour until December 19, 2021, and then at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End from January 4-22, 2022 (


A ride in the heart of emotions

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Criterion Theatre London).


Verdict: Make another splash

For many, childhood is the time that we have to discover hidden rules in a hostile world.

That, I think, is the fascination of this beguiling show based on Neil Gaiman’s fantastical and semi-autobiographical cult novel about his own childhood, which has now transferred to the West End after opening at the National Theatre in 2019.

Joel Horwood adapts the story. It takes a while to get your bearings in this intricate, shapeshifting tale.

It is, though, in essence a tale of bereavement — about a boy still grieving the death of his mother who discovers that a farmhouse near his home is a portal to another universe filled with monsters trying to raid our human dimension. Katy Rudd’s clever production is scary yet charming as stagehands conjure furniture to operate the giant spider-like monster emerging from pitch dark. 

There are spine-tingling illusions as actors disappear and reappear unexpectedly, and moments of pure Hammer Horror — including a bloody hand reaching out of a bathtub.

Chills: Nia Towle and James Bamford

Chills: Nia Toowle and James Bamford

Fly Davis’ set is spooky and fairytale-like. The stage was covered in curly brushwood that looks like an engraving of a child’s book. Jherek Bischoff’s electronic music gives the show a pulse-quickening edge.

Despite all its special effects and illusions, Gaiman’s show is based on its emotional strength. This is thanks to an amazing cast, including Nia Towle, who plays the young girl with special abilities, and James Bamford, who plays her emotionally fragile but physically gifted charge caught between supernatural and psychological forces.

Laura Rogers’ alien lodger moves in to the home of the boys and attempts to claim the boy’s soul. Nicolas Tennant, his dad, is charmingly cuddly but strangely sinister.

This all adds up into a great show for secondary-school age children.