Rags to royalty tale of Nell opens at King’s

A scene from Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale
A scene from Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale
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THERE’S a treat in store at the King’s Theatre all this week where English Touring Theatre team up with the Old Lady of Leven Street to bring the Olivier winning comedy Nell Gwynn to the Capital for its only Scottish dates.

Direct from sell out runs on the West End and at the Globe Theatre, Jessica Swale’s hit play, which won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, is a warm-hearted, bawdy tale telling the story of an unlikely heroine, who went from lowly orange seller to win the adoration of the public and the heart of the King.

It’s 1660, Drury Lane. Charles II has cast off London’s drab, puritanical past with a love of all things loud and sexy. A young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence in the burgeoning West End theatre scene unaware of who is in the audience one fateful night.

In real life, Eleanor ‘Nell’ Gwynn was born on 2 February 1650. She died 37 years later on 14 November 1687.

The most famous actress of the restoration period, her’s was a rags to riches tale.

Hired as a scantily clad ‘orange girl’ to sell oranges inside Drury Lane Theatre she met all walks of life until, one day, Charles II visited what was the ‘King’s playhouse’.

Described by diarist Samuel Pepys as ‘pretty, witty Nell’ she quickly became a long-time mistress of King Charles II, with whom she had two sons, Charles and James Beauclerk.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, Laura Pitt-Pulford plays the title role at The King’s and is joined by Esh Alladi, Nicholas Bishop, Pandora Clifford, Thea Collings, Michael Cochrane, Phillipa Flynn, Clive Hayward, Jack Helsby, Joanne Howarth, Pepter Lunkuse, George Jennings and Sam Marks.

The cast is completed by Ben Righton as Charles II, Mossie Smith and Leon Stewart.

Nell Gwynn, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, tomorrow-Saturday, 7.30pm (2.30pm), £18-£31.50, 0131-529 6000