Jessica Swale’s play about the actress and mistress of King Charles II opened at the Apollo Theatre last night. Were critics impressed? 

Gemma Arterton (Nell Gwynn) and David Sturzaker (Charles II) in Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre. Photo credit Tristram Kenton.jpg
Gemma Arterton and David Sturzaker .Photograph by Tristram Kenton. 

The Guardian: ****Michael Billington wrote: “If this one is remembered it will largely be for Arterton, who offers the most generous, and broadest, of Gwynns.”

The Stage: ***** Mark Shenton said: ” Nell Gwynn is a wonderful, warm-hearted and generous piece of theatrical history, performed with just the right amount of affection and affectation.”

The Telegraph: ***** Dominic Cavendish thought that: “All in all, but finally down to the now A-list Arterton, this is a right royal treat. Go.”

Time Out:  *** Miriam Gillinson found: “Arterton is charming as hell but there’s something about the play’s persistent jolliness that slightly grates in the closer confines of the Apollo. ”

British ***Emily Hardy commented: “Nell Gwynn’s remarkable Cinderella story has been given new life in Jessica Swale’s light-hearted, bawdy comedy, but it’s just crying out to be back at the atmospheric, open-air Globe Theatre.”

London Theatre 1: ***** Laura- Jane Foley wrote: “Nell Gwynn is a brilliant romp; a well-paced comedy with entertaining songs.”

Gemma Arterton (Nell Gwynn) in Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre. Photo credit Tristram Kenton (1).jpg
Gemma Arterton as Nell Gwynn. Photograph by Tristram Kenton. 

Overall verdict: this is very much Gemma Arterton’s show but with great support from the rest of the cast. But there are a few questions as to whether it would have been better to have remained at the Shakespeare’s Globe for a longer run. Worth a visit. 

Nell Gwynn is on at the Apollo Theatre until the 30th April. To book tickets visit:, Discount, Last, Theatre Tickets, Love, Theatre and UK



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