Nell Gwynn

This was my first visit to RAODS and to the Plaza Theatre and what a treat I was given with Nell Gwynn, a story of a young strong woman and her fight with love, the theatre and bringing women onto a level playing field socially and theatrically.

All the principal characters set out their stalls well in communicating the language of the play. Kerry Butcher is stunningly good as Nell Gwynn: her characterisation, pace and interaction with the audience are all absolutely first rate and I am sure that when we get to the awards season her name will feature. Steven Lilly, playing Ned Spiggett, is also fantastic with an underplayed part that he certainly makes the most of. Wayne Ings as Edward Kynaston brings the house down with his great interpretation of a number of female leads and his concerns about a ‘real’ woman coming into the theatre. The live music and songs add a dimension to the overall production and the singing is first-rate.

The second half is just as impressive as the first, with excellent turns from Christine English as Ma Gwynn and Becky Mills as Louise De Keroualle. At all times the pace and characterisation is strong and it was very easy to forget that I was watching amateur production.

The only small negative was that the scene changes were just a little clunky and could have done with some of the live music over them to keep the flow of the production going, and the hand-painted set and design did not really meet the high quality of the production. But these are small points in an otherwise outstanding production which richly deserves the support of the people of Romsey and the surrounding areas.

Future performances: 9-12 November at 7.30.