Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue

Aug 10 2015 | By More

✭✭✩✩✩   Insufficiently fruity

Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18): Thurs 6 – Sun 30 Aug 2015

Lacking nothing in energy, Nell Gwyn: An Epilogue is nevertheless lacking in focus and fails to convince as a result.

Orange Girl Productions’ offering at Sweet Grassmarket is a one-woman show about the celebrated orange-seller, actor and mistress of Charles II. Laura Ingram’s script succeeds on a number of levels, imparting some of the history without lapsing into dry didacticism. There is also a leavening of humour. However, the archaisms begin to grate over time, and it becomes all too easy to let the words just wash over you.

Lucy Formby as Nell Gwyn. Photo: Gary Daniells

Lucy Formby as Nell Gwyn. Photo: Gary Daniells

This is no fault of Lucy Formby, who plays Nell with glee and gusto, although a tendency to gabble reduces understanding further. The venue – a genuine traditional Fringe broom-cupboard in the Apex hotel – plays to her strengths. Much of the show depends on her interaction with the audience, and with one row of seats ringing the room, she is very much in the audience’s faces and there is nowhere for them to hide when she enlists their help.

However, the in-the-round setting has some drawbacks as well, and a seeming desire to keep eye contact with everyone leads to Formby risking dizziness as she constantly spins around. Director Andy Corelli has attempted to inject enough variety into the performance, but there is a reliance on the same repeated movements that also lacks freshness after a while.

Some exuberant dancing is necessary to restore the energy levels, but the most interesting moments come when Nell is sitting down and it is easier to concentrate on the story.


The rest of the time it is difficult to work out the motivation behind this show. We don’t really learn a great deal about Nell or the times she inhabited, and despite Formby’s best efforts we leave without a particularly profound understanding of the character.

Like many shows with a 16+ recommendation, furthermore, it is ‘adult’ without being very grown-up. It would be tempting to say that it would appeal to anyone who wants to hear a variety of different words for genitals while watching someone shed much of her clothing, but that runs the risk of making it sound more interesting than it actually is.

As it is, there is a diverting tale hidden in here. But, despite the sterling efforts of the performer, it is hidden a little too well.

Running time 50 minutes
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18) Apex International Hotel, Grassmarket, EH1 2HS
Thursday 6 – Sunday 30 August 2015
Daily at 4.55 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
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