Full casting has been announced for the West End transfer of Jessica Swale’s new play Nell Gwynn, directed by Christopher Luscombe. The full cast includes Paige Carter, Michele Dotrice, Matthew Durkan, Michael Garner, Greg Haiste, George Jennings, Ellie Leah, Peter McGovern, David Rintoul, Anneika Rose, Nicholas Shaw, David Sturzaker, Jay Taylor, Sasha Waddell and Sarah Woodward. Award-winning Gemma Arterton (The Duchess of Malfi, Made in Dagenham, Quantum of Solace) stars as cheeky, charming and clever Nell Gwynn, one of the first, and most acclaimed, women to appear on the London stage. Following its critical acclaim and a sell-out run at Shakespeare’s Globe, Nell Gwynn will be on at the Apollo Theatre for a strictly limited season from 4 February 2016. Jessica Swale’s entertaining new play 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 … Read more
The result here is that this is more the Comedy of Richard II than the Tragedy of Richard II. There is an unseemly pursuit of laughter – characterisations are extreme, language is tossed aside in favour of quick laughs and the deeper, darker side of text and situation is left largely unconsidered. This is not to say that production is not entertaining – it is – but it is not a production which seeks to achieve anything in particular or which attempts to enliven or illuminate. In rather the same way as an accomplished school performance can leave you satisfied, so too does this production. It’s a great introductory point; if this is your first taste of Shakespeare, you won’t be disappointed. But if you come looking for insight or new perspectives, you will find none.
Set firmly in its time, circa 1597, with costumes and accoutrements which establish an exotic, far away and, most importantly, bygone era, Munby avoids the great questions of the play and steers a course through the waters of sympathy, self-interest and capitalism. The result is a richly amusing take on the play, which is involving and clear, but which never achieves great heights of lyricism or drama, happily accepting “everyday” as its overall pulse. The high point of poetry for the evening comes with Jonathan Pryce’s heartfelt “Hath not a Jew eyes?” speech, the words wrenched from his very soul.