Theatre review: Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue
Theatre review: Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott ★★★ “Do YOU like my legs,” says a woman in 17th century-style dress who describes herself as an “actress and constant whore.” She is Nell Gwyn, mistress of King Charles II, dubbed “pretty, witty Nell,” by Samuel Pepys – and …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott

★★★

“Do YOU like my legs,” says a woman in 17th century-style dress who describes herself as an “actress and constant whore.” She is Nell Gwyn, mistress of King Charles II, dubbed “pretty, witty Nell,” by Samuel Pepys – and this involving one-woman show makes it clear why.

Laura Ingram’s lively script, in which Nell laments getting stuck playing a dead saint rather than the comic roles she craves, is rich with the language and lyricism of the period, but also full of acerbic one-liners from a woman who could nowadays be a stand-up comedian, but is instead stuck relying on a king and a male playwright to see her as something more than her looks.

Through a highly entertaining, funny and, at times, provocative piece, Lucy Formby skips through Nell’s story, painting male audience members as the figures she’s beholden to, flitting between chastising them for their faults and begging them for work. The conviction of Ingram’s performance and the intimate in-the-round staging makes the tragedy of a woman trapped by the times she lived in feel current and immediate. A “merry sprite”, handing out oranges and Turkish delight, even death can’t keep her off the stage.

Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), until 30 August, 4:55pm

Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015

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