Nell Gwynn - November 2021


To celebrate their 40th anniversary (albeit a year late due to Covid19) the Parlour Players produced Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale.   It was directed by Morven Rae and was staged from the 11th to the 13th November 2021.  The play is set in 1660, shortly after the twin restorations of monarchy and public theatre after nearly two decades of war, revolution, and theatrical suppression.   The story revolves around the life of the witty and streetwise orange hawker, Nell Gwynn, who, heckling the actors at the Drury Lane playhouse, catches the eye of  contemporary actor Charles Hart, who trains her in the actor's craft.  When she takes to the stage as one of the first female actors, she causes bawdy havoc in a male-dominated world, and soon comes to the attention of King Charles II . Rising from her roots in the slums of Coal Yard Alley, she becomes the nation’s most celebrated actress and, infamously, the favourite mistress of the King, must to the annoyance of the King's minister, Arlington, and to the chagrin of his other mistresses, Lady Castlemaine and Louise de Keroualle. With her family and friends at risk, Nell had to decide where her future lay...on the stage or at the Palace.

Although not a musical as such, Nell Gwynn included several lively chorus songs of a period style, as well as much good music written especially for the production by Musical Director Ian Rae.  Interestingly, Jessica Swale felt that the overly verbose Restoration style would be alienating to modern audiences and that it was far more important to capture the quick wit of the time, and so chose to use modern syntax and diction, peppered with period references and the occasional anachronism for comic effect. The result is an entertaining homage to Nell rather than an attempt at historical accuracy.


Nell Gwynn - Harriett Jackson

King Charles II - Simon Vines

Rose Gwynn - Faye Hook

Nancy - Mary Rose Goodliffe

Charles Hart - David Sanders

Thomas Killigrew - Chester Stern

Edward Kynaston - Dan Horton

John Dryden - John Shepherd

Lord Arlington - Ron White

Lady Castlemaine - Katie Eynon

Queen Katherine - Natasha Palmer

Louise de Keroualle - Phoebe Sirett Harrison

Old Ma Gwynn - Denise Scales

Ned Spigget - Josh Lewis

William - Rick Roberts

Ensemble - Tracey Gascoigne, Jon Slade, Rosemary Stern, Phil Wright


Director - Morven Rae

Musical Director - Ian Rae

Production Assistant - Theo Spring

Stage Manager - Rick Roberts

Assistant Stage Manager - Joyce Wells

Set Design - Doug Wells and Linda Hornzee-Jones

Set Construction - Doug Wells and Phil Rathbone

Choreographer - Louisa McAlpine

Technical and Lighting - Steve North, Julie Montgomery and Andy Nicholson

Wardrobe Supervisor - Linda Currion

Props Manager - Phil Wright

Sound - Ian Rae

Make Up - Madeline Reeve

Prompt - Theo Spring

Box Office - Janet and Roger Brimble

Front of House - Claire Connery and members

Bar - Ian Spring and members

Publicity - Linda Currion and Theo Spring

Programme - Theo Spring

Rehearsal photography - Tony Drayson