‘Pretty, witty Nell’ Gwynn is a Joy to Watch!
We’ve been so excited to see the English Touring Theatre’s production on Nell Gwynn, written by Jessica Swale, for months! We went along to see the show on opening night, and we were not disappointed. What a delightful performance!
We said that it’s lovely to see a show start with the curtains open so you get a good snoop at the stage. The set was stunning, and just the one is used throughout the performance. We loved this aspect as the set is utilised so inventively that you can imagine exactly where you are in each scene.
It was brilliant to see period musicians performing on stage with the cast, and the music was fantastic. The performance was accompanied by both upbeat ditties, and more melancholy sections during emotional parts of the play.
Laure Pitt-Pulford was absolutely captivating as Nell Gwynn. The play chronicles Nell’s explosive rise to fame, from a bawdy orange-seller to stealing the heart of a king. The story is a much more feisty rags-to-riches story than Cinderella, but keeps all of the charm and magic.
There was lots of political and religious conflict during the reign of Charles II, but the play pays just a fleeting nod to this, choosing to focus on its characters which allows for the play to remain light-hearted for the most part, but that also makes the emotional and human moments more poignant.
The entire script is punctuated by innuendo and a razor sharp wit that had everyone in the audience shaking with laughter. We really felt a part of the story, with some of the jokes breaking the ‘fourth wall’ and giving a tongue-in-cheek nod to current events.
Esh Alladi played Edward Kynaston, the histrionic and erudite actor of women’s parts, and he completely stole every scene he was in, with over-the-top expressions and fast retorts. That said, the whole cast was extremely strong. Onstage, the actors frequently had to wait several moments for laughter to subside before being able to carry on with their dialogue. There were also some extremely touching moments that we really enjoyed.
We were really glad that the play uses modern and colloquial speech, as it meant that the story was easy to follow and every joke was a hit.
The production has picked up the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and it’s so well deserved. We recommend that anyone goes along to see the show; it’s an intelligent and joyful treat that we can’t wait to welcome back to Blackpool!
Thank you very much to the Grand Theatre Blackpool for having us. The show runs until Saturday and tickets can be bought here or by telephoning 01253 290190.