A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jade & I spent the day watching the Olivier Awards in Covent Garden. The Olivier Awards are basically the Oscars of West End Theatre. And one of the shows that stood out to me at the ceremony, was best new comedy winner Nell Gwynn.
Nell Gwynn stars Gemma Arterton as the title character, who was one the first women to ever appear on an English stage back in the 1660’s. The first act of the play shows Nell using her comedic talent and cheeky wit as she becomes a star at the Playhouse at the time. Even attracting the attention of King Charles II. She’s also famous for being one of King Charles II’s mistresses, which the second act of the play shows. She’s such a fantastic character. While her history is kind of scattered as a lot of it has been contradicted, before becoming an actress, Nell worked as an orange picker. It is also said she worked in her mother’s brothel. And this is used against her a lot in the play from other characters, but Nell completely owns it. She did what she had to do to survive and she refuses to be belittled over it and I loved her for that.
*image is from Google images!
This show is so well deserving of the Best New Comedy award at the Oliviers. Jessica Swale is so talented. It’s a hilarious and cheeky script which definitely reflects of the character of Nell Gwynn. The show breaks the fourth wall a couple of times (“a woman on stage?! they’ll be writing plays next!”) and pokes fun at how sexist theatre can be. Part of this included a couple of digs at Shakespeare which I found absolutely hilarious. (“He should write better plays. Or let his wife have a go.”)
Gemma Arterton’s performance as Nell Gwynn is so charming and compelling, she pretty much had the whole audience in the palm of her hands. She was a perfect fit in this puzzle. Although she didn’t win, she was definitely worthy of her Best Actress in a Play nomination at the Oliviers. The whole cast were absolutely fantastic as well. Particular stand outs for me were Michele Dotrice as Nancy, Jay Taylor as Charles Hart & David Sturzaker as Charles II.
There’s also some really funny and naughty songs in the show as well but I shall not spoil because you should definitely go and see this play. Some plays can be a bit dull and incredibly serious to the point where you have to reevaluate your life. But Nell Gwynn is a fantastic burst of humour in the West End. And unfortunately it’s only running until the 30th April so book now and book quick!
And also there’s a dog in the cast. A VERY CUTE DOG.
Tickets for Nell Gwynn can be bought at http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/apollo-theatre/nell_gwynn and is running at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End until 30th April!
Until next time.