Last night David and I attended a new play by Jessica Swale at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Nell Gwynn, based very accurately on the life of the 17th century actress who was the mistress of Charles II.
She was born in 1650 (?) and was one of the most famous actresses of the Restoration, often mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diaries.
The play, with fairly authentic music, was delightful and very well cast.
Charlotte Strallen was perfect as Nell Gwynn, singing and dancing as well as filling the role with humor and pathos.
Timothy Edward Kane was regal as King Charles II and John Tufts was very good as Charles Hart, the actor who brought Nell from her life as an orange seller and street walker to the stage.
Nell had two children by the King, Charles Beauclerk (1670–1726); and James Beauclerk (1671–1680) (the surname is pronounced boh-clair). Charles was created Earl of Burford and later Duke of St. Albans.
She was granted a house in Pall Mall which until recently was the only house there not owned by the crown.
The delightful music was written by Nigel Hess and the choreography was by Amber Mak. It was a delightful evening in the theatre!