Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swales, Directed by Ewen Coleman
Saturday 17 June From 1:00pm
Newtown Community Centre Theatre, Corner Rintoul and Colombo Streets, Newton
Performance dates – 20 – 30 September
The year is 1660. The Puritans have run away with their drab grey tails between their legs. Charles II, the ‘Merry Monarch’, has exploded onto the scene with a love of all things loud, French and sexy. And at Drury Lane, a young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence. Little does she know who’s watching.
Jessica Swales Nell Gwynn charts the rise of an unlikely heroine, from her roots in Coal Yard Alley to her success as Britain’s most celebrated actress, and her hard-won place in the heart of the king. But at a time when women are second-class citizens, can her charm and spirit protect her from the dangers of the court? And at what cost?
Nell Gwynn has been described as a bawdy, sexy, and playful celebration of an incredible life in an era pulsating with energy and an exhilarating take on the heady world of Restoration theatre.
It premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2015 then transferred to the West End in 2016 going on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and is currently on tour throughout the UK.
Time Out described Nell Gwynn as ‘superbly funny. A juicy, well-wrought thing of great fun, a wonderfully layered celebration of theatre, but most of all an apt homage to a woman incredibly ahead of her time’.
Characters (ages a rough guide only)
Nell Gwynn, 25 plus, the heroine. Confident and charismatic, but very grounded, rising from a working-class girl to the first female star of the stage and the kings number one mistress. She is also a very believable seductress (a kind of Beyoncé of her time).
Rose Gwynn, 25 plus, Nell’s sister. Supportive of Nell but then concerned at her developing liaison with the King and resents Nell’s neglect of her mother.
Nancy, 20 plus, Nell’s dresser and confidante. Down to earth with lots of common sense
Old Ma Gwynn, 50 plus, Nell’s mother, a brothel madam and an alcoholic.
Queen Katherine, 40 plus, Charles’s long suffering, volatile Portuguese wife.
Lady Castlemaine, 30 plus, Charles’s most ambitious mistress, grand, demanding and used to influencing Charles.
Louise de Keroualle, 20 plus, Charles’s French mistress. A young ambitious French aristocrat, demanding, petulant and very jealous of Nell.
King Charles II, 30 plus, known as the ‘Merry Monarch’, he is suave and sexy, a sort of rock star king out for a good time, but no push over and knows what he wants and usually gets it.
Lord Arlington, 50 plus, Charles II’s long suffering adviser. A schemer and plotter who thinks he knows best how the King should behave.
Charles Hart, 30 plus, the leading actor in the King’s Company, suave and confident (a kind of Hugh Jackman of his time) he is Nell’s mentor but then falls in love with her.
Thomas Killigrew, 40 plus, actor-manager of the King’s Company, a man continually under pressure Edward Kynaston, 30 plus, actor in the King’s Company, plays the women’s parts (and loves it) and gets very jealous when females start playing them. He also has the hots for Charles Hart.
John Dryden, 30 plus, resident playwright in the Kings Company but increasingly stressed out at trying to come up with a ‘good’ script.
Ned Spigget, 20 plus, young actor in training in the King’s Company. Youthfully, eager and earnest but not a nerd.
Up to 4 Servants and attendants, male and female of any age, are also required
The role of Ma Gwynne could be doubled with the Queen and Lady Castlemaine could double with Louise
There are also songs and dances as part of the play although relatively simple and Nell has a couple of easily sung solos.
For further information including copies of the script contact Ewen Coleman 027 428 8491 or email@example.com