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Posts Tagged ‘Gugu Mbatha-Raw’

This was my sixth and last visit to The Globe this year, and my favourite. Playwright Jessica Swale follows her brilliant Blue Stockings, one of the best new plays staged here, with this hugely entertaining one about Charles II’s mistress.

We first meet sometime prostitute Nell as an orange seller. She is befriended by actor Charles Hart who offers her acting lessons and then suggests the King’s Company cast her, now women are allowed on stage, much to the consternation of their regular male leading lady, Edward Kynaston. Charles’ obsession with her begins with visits to see her perform but it’s not long before she’s doing private performances and is provided with a home and ultimately two children. The relationship lasted some 17 years and the play covers that whole period. What makes it so successful is its humour, cheeky, bawdy and irresistible.

I loved Hugh Durrant’s simple design – a few giant gold tassels and plush curtains (most of it takes place in a 17th century playhouse after all) and superb costumes. The play really suits the Globe stage. Christopher Luscombe’s irreverent, nifty staging teases out great performances all around. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is sensational as Nell – feisty, sexy, cheeky – clearly relishing this terrific role. Greg Hastie is brilliant as Kynaston with a wonderful array of actorly strops and speeches about role motivation which bring the house down. Amanda Lawrence gives us another of her scene-stealing turns as Nell’s dresser Nancy and there are two delightful cameos from Sarah Woodward as Charles’ Portuguese queen and Nell’s mum (a performance one groundling with a beer in hand will never forget).

All hail la Swale. This was one of those joyous occasions that make The Globe unique and indispensable. Proper entertainment. Go!

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