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    


Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts is set to host a series of shows encompassing contemporary music, digital art and installation to begin the Autumn 2017 season. 

New images which have just been released give a unique insight into excavations at the historic Quaker burial site which was discovered earlier this month during redevelopment work at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange.

Little Barrie's fifth album, Death Express, packs a heavy punch, channelling the three members' ferocious musical chops into a raw, DIY response to today's atmosphere of confusion and division.

Brighton's Chris Riddell, illustrator, political cartoonist and author, is behind a newVoluntary Service Overseas (VSO) fundraising campaign to help babies 'draw' their first breath in Sierra Leone, which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. 

For two months, a group of artists that live with an invisible disability have been creating visual, sound and interactive artworks with the aim of educating the public on what it's like to live with a hidden illness. 

Sussex Nightstop – a Brighton-based emergency accommodation service – will be featured in a national TV documentary this month.
Pic By Andy Sturmey

Love Supreme Jazz Festival is now an annual fixture for Sussex music lovers who like their music to match their taste in fine wines.

Brighton Pier will be transformed into a spectacular science showcase during this year's British Science Festival, organisers have announced.
Akvile Magicdust with Lily Gould

Award-winning Lithuanian illustrator Akvile Magicdust has been mentoring students at Brighton Metropolitan College as part of the Pop Up Projects’ International Illustrator's Exchange programme

The Capture Collective are members of Brighton & Hove Photography Club, a Photoworks initiative enabling the city's 13-16 year olds to meet regularly, develop their camera skills, produce photographs for a display and gain an Arts Award certificate.

They are the band responsible for a large part of the soundtrack of the Mod era and enjoyed a rollercoaster ride through the perils of the music world.
Blue Remembered Hills Cast During Rehearsal

Identity Theatre Company are bringing Dennis Potter's groundbreaking play Blue Remembered Hills to the Brighton Open Air Theatre this July.

In just one week this year's Love Supreme Jazz Festival returns to Glynde Place, East Sussex, for a three-day event jam packed with performances from a diverse cross section of jazz, soul and pop talent.

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