Offering a comedic escape to the 1600's, Nell Gwynn is now playing at New Theatre until 8th September. Written in 2015 by Jessica Swale, this modern play set in historic times has been beautifully created by Director Deborah Jones.
Nell Gwynn tells the rags to riches true story of Ms. Gwynn, a woman who grew up in a poor run-down part of London. Nell finds herself working as a revolutionary actress/comedienne in the King's Playhouse and, in turn, catches the King's eye. Throughout the play we see Nell Gwynn being undermined and criticised for her gender and her upbringing. But, as with all good feminist tales, by the end of the play, most of the characters have come to realise that Nell Gwynn is a forced to be reckoned with. For a short run down of all things Nell Gwynn, pickup a program at the show for a gold coin donation. It will certainly enrichen the play.
The cast was filled with bright stars, and everyone in the 16-man cast was spectacular. Bishanyia was truly phenomenal in conveying the strong headed and fiercely independent mannerisms of Nell Gwynn and managed to have perfect chemistry with each other character on stage. Of special mention are Kate Bookallil, Genevieve Muratore and Naomi Livingstone, who each respectively played the King's love interests with powerful vigour.
The costumes were well done and showed great consideration by Deborah Mulhall and conveyed not just the characters societal standing, but their personality's. Unfortunately, with each scene change seeing the lights dimmed whilst the set changes, the set became a hindrance in the play as it bounced between 4 main locations. In the second act, there appeared to be large jumps in time and with no indicator of how long had lapsed it was at times hard to follow the story.
Nell Gwynn is a powerful play that has been carried well by the cast at New Theatre and despite clocking in at almost three hours, it never feels cumbersome. Instead, the play is a constant buzz of activity and change, with occasional ditty's perfectly balancing the production.