Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 08 March 2017

Review: Nell Gwynn @ Theatre Royal Brighton (Reviewed by Gary Cook)

Jessica Swale's exhilarating take on the world of Restoration theatre arrives in Brighton with a twinkle in its eye and a big saucy wink at the audience.
Photo: Sam Marks and Laura Pitt-Pulford

This production of Nell Gwynn, which plays at Theatre Royal Brighton until 11th March 2017,  charts the rise of our unlikely heroine from her roots as an *ahem* orange-seller in 1660s London through becoming a celebrated "actor-ess" to becoming Charles II's "favourite mistress". 

Partly a poignant love story, partly a homage to a trailblazing proto-feminist, partly a love-letter to theatrical history, the whole manages to be a warm-hearted, rollicking comedy. 

Swale has carefully sketched around the bones of known facts so that the incidents and relationships portrayed remain as accurate as possible. 

Another layer is added - a knowing modern parallel on the relationship of politics to the arts (hints at the futility of leaving an alliance with the rest of Europe and austerity measures were greeted with warm applause by the audience).

The detailed and gilded set triples-up to represent Charles's Royal Court, and both back- and front stage of the King's theatre - choreographed transitions between the three scenarios are seamless. It even includes a minstrel's gallery, where four musicians play period instruments to accompany the action and the rousing songs.

The ensemble cast, equally at home with innuendo-laden comedy, moments of pathos and spectacularly good musical numbers are all perfect in their roles, but kudos goes to Ben Righton as Charles II, Sam Marks as Charles Hart, the dashing leading actor of the King's Company who first encourages Nell on stage and the hilarious Esh Alladi, playing Kynaston, the male actor specialising in the women's parts, horrified at the possibility of being upstaged - "They've disgraced our trade. Ruined our art. They've put a woman on the stage".

Nell Gwynn was first presented at The Globe, and then transferred to the West End starring Gemma Arterton, which won the 2016 Best New Comedy Olivier in 2016. 

I saw that wonderful production, and was knocked out by Arterton's performance… I am pleased to report that the English Touring Theatre's production has as its lead the wonderful Laura Pitt-Pulford, whose take on Nell is very different but just as feisty, funny, seductive and pitch-perfect.

In short, a brilliant play, brilliantly performed. If there are any tickets left, do yourself a favour and get down to the Theatre Royal this week.

Nell Gwynn plays Theatre Royal Brighton until 11th March 2017. For tickets please CLICK HERE.

by: Gary Cook




Share    

Kate Tempest by Eddie Otchere

At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, Kate Tempest's Brighton Festival programme (6-28 May 2017) celebrates what she calls the Everyday Epic. 

The Unthanks release what has been their most difficult album to make so far, and yet they feel is also their possibly their best to date, thanks to not one but two Drakes, neither of whom are Nick…! 

The Stranglers are the new Christmas. Making their annual drop down Brighton's cultural chimney and having a capacity crowd of believers marvel as their fourth incarnation keeps true to the spirit and obtuse time signatures of the original four-piece.

When broadcasting legend Danny Baker takes to the stage at Theatre Royal Brightonn ext month, no-one, including Danny himself, will know where proceedings are heading.

Sensing the shadows cast by tyrannical forces growing ever greater by the day - The Undercover Hippy is back and on a mission to combat the sinister powers-that-be with his cunning blend of humour, optimism and hard-hitting political commentary.

Byline Festival launches at Pippingford Park, East Sussex, this summer, offering festivalgoers a unique opportunity to recapture the spirit of festivals when they had a sense of purpose. It is for everyone who doesn't want to take Trump, fake news or alternative truth lying down.

After instantly selling out their UK tour within a matter of minutes, electro pioneers Kraftwerk have added a date at the Brighton Centre, in June 2017.
mage (c) Morgan Sinclair

Brighton's Tall Ships will soon unleash new single Petrichor, taken from their forthcoming album Impressions.

Brighton's first-ever 38 Degrees Live event is set to include lively, upbeat discussions aboutlocal politics and will be a chance to hear about inspiring goings on, people, issues and opportunities in the area. 

Official creators of the genre 'Rockgrass', former ACDC tribute band, Hayseed Dixie are back in Brighton next month ahead of the realease of their new album, Free Your Mind And Your Grass Will Follow. 

The Crumpetty Tree Café and Deli in Hove has organised a Mother's Day special lunch donation menu on Sunday 26th March in support of Brighton & Hove Impetus, the award-winning local charity which helps vulnerable people who are lonely or isolated because of disability, poor mental or physical health or age.

“1895: London Society takes its problems to Sherlock Holmes.  Everyone else goes to Arrowood.”  That's the intriguing concept of the debut novel Arrowood, written by Brighton-based Anglia Ruskin University academic Dr Mick Finlay.

He's well-known for playing characters on TV that are bang up-to-date – Jonatton Yeah? (yes, that is the right spelling!) in the cult Channel 4 sitcom, Nathan Barley; the ‘is he gay? Is he straight?’  Marcus Dent in ITV's Coronation Street and, most recently, one half of a same sex parenting partnership in the brilliant ITV crime drama, Unforgotten. 

She's the girl with the big smile, the fresh-faced Nonnatus House nun who couldn'tconceal her true feelings if she tried. 

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd