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Bawdy romp will be fit for a king

Nell Gwynn, Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry, March 17-24.

An extravaganza of Restoration Comedy is promised at Coventry's Criterion Theatre when veteran actor/director Keith Railton introduces us to the award-winning play Nell Gwynn.

Bawdy, yes. Colourful, certainly. And with Nicol Cortese in the title role it's fair to say there'll be more than a sprinkling of glamour as this huge cast recreates 17th century Drury Lane in the days of King Charles ll, the "Merry Monarch".

He managed to keep his head, but not his heart. That went to Nell, mother of at least two of his 12 illegitimate children, and an actress described as "pretty, witty Nell" by no less than Samuel Pepys.

This play won the Oliver Award for Best New Comedy during its professional run last year and members of the Criterion are determined to maintain the standard with set designers hammering away late into the night.

Word is tickets are already selling fast.

And Keith says: "Audiences will remember Nicol Cortese as the mistress of another monarch in our production of Anne Boleyn. We also have Pete Gillam taking on the challenge of Charles ll and Gareth Withers playing Charles Hart, the leading actor in the King’s Company, and another significant figure in Nell's life.

Musical director Bill Bosworth has incorporated local musicians in performing live on stage, there are folk dances choreographed by Robin Stokoe and the wardrobe department has outdone itself with fabulous costumes and wigs.

If you prefer history enlivened with a not necessarily strictly accurate chronology of events, then you'll love this.

For tickets ring 02476 674719 or email: www.criteriontheatre.co.uk