Review: Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale at Cambridge Arts Theatre, March 21-25

A scene from Nell Gwynn. Picture: Jessica Swale

A scene from Nell Gwynn. Picture: Jessica Swale - Credit: �Tristram Kenton

A wonderful show and brilliant production, Nell Gwynn is a must see.

Charting the life of the orange seller turned actress turned royal mistress turned actress again, Nell Gwynn is full of bawdy humour and is non-stop fun.

Hugely colourful with the added attraction of excellent song and dance, inspired by the period, the play, under the direction of Christopher Luscombe, delves into the life of pretty witty Nell as she joins Thomas Killigrew’s “Kings Company” of actors and players before attracting the attention of Charles II.

Touching on themes of celebrity, the role of the courtesan, and the development of restoration theatre, Nell Gwynn is beautifully acted by leading lady Laura Pitt-Pulford who encapsulates with great expertise the wit and charm of Nell.

The supporting cast is equally strong with excellent performances, notably Ben Righton as the King and Mossie Smith as Nancy, Nell’s dresser.


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Pepter Lunkuse, as Nell’s sister Rose, offers some interesting insight into the early life of Nell as the daughter of a brothel owner. And Pandora Clifford as Lady Castlemaine and Louise de Kerouaille explores the types of women Charles II included in his life.

Popular to this day, perhaps because she was one of us, Nell Gwynn’s relationship with the King was one of mutual affection and friendship and the play brings this out with grace and eloquence in the closing scenes.

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A marvellous production exploring a fascinating relationship at the very heart of our nation’s history.

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