Nell Gwynn

Wednesday morning had been so busy for me that I neglected to remember we were going downtown for a play that evening.

We got smart this time and took Sheridan Road in, taking a short trip to the Loop and making it into a ninety minute drive. The good news is that if I have to be in traffic, this is a more visually interesting scene than the highway.

We ate at Riva Crab House, down below in the bar area with a view of Lake Michigan, as it is on Navy Pier. The great thing is that you get valet parking for $15 when you eat there. After a wonderful meal, we strolled westward on the pier to Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

Nell Gwynn is a play written by Jessica Swale and takes a real person, a woman who was peddling oranges to make a living. She ends up selling them at Drury Lane and is discovered by the King’s Company theatre troupe. At the age of seventeen, she is considered to be one of England’s most loved comedy stars and is soon spied by the King himself, King Charles II. Charles is on a tenuous throne, in some respects, given that his father, Charles I had lost his head and he was forced to spend nine years of his life in continental Europe. What followed his father’s reign was the reign of Oliver Cromwell. People were more than happy to accept the happier, more jovial times of the reign of Charles II.

Here is the cast:
Scarlett Strallen as Nell Gwynn
Emma Ladji as Rose Gwynn, Nell’s sister
Natalie West as Nancy, Nell’s dresser and confidante
Emily Gardner Xu Hall as Lady Castlemaine. Charles most ambitious mistress & Louise de Kérouaille, Charles’ French mistress
Hollis Resnik as Queen Catherine & Old Ma Gwynn
Timothy Edward Kane as King Charles II
John Tufts as Charles Hart, leading actor in the King’s Company
Bret Tuomi as Thomas Killigrew, manager of the King’s Company
David Bedella as Edward Kynaston, an actor who plays female parts
Larry Yando as Lord Arlington, the King’s advisor
Richard David as Ned Spigget, actor-in-training
Jeff Diebold as William, a servant
Bentley (the King Charles’ Spaniel) as Oliver Cromwell

Nell becomes one of the King’s many mistresses and many adventures ensue.

I love the way that the playwright took real people, did research, took a few liberties here and there, and presented us with a very interesting monarch and time period.

In these rough times, it is nice to be able to spend a few moments laughing at the hysterical antics found on this stage.

I must say, we have had a great theatre time of late. Does that mean that harsh times breed good writing?

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
This entry was posted in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Life in general, Theatre, Thoughts and philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

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