AS well as leaving the theatre with the pivotal song stuck in my head, much to the delight of my friend who had to listen to me sing it on the car ride home, I was left with one burning question…who was the actor playing Charles Hart that STOLE the show?

His name is Jack Prince and he was playing the role of a prominent Restoration actor in a production of Nell Gwynn, a play about a famous actress who was one of the first women allowed on the stage in the 17th century, trained by Mr Hart.

The production is being put on currently by Wallingford’s performing arts group Sinodun Players at the Corn Exchange theatre which was full to the brim on Thursday (26) evening.  

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Herald Series:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the play, which was written by British playwright Jessica Swale, having briefly read the plotline and then getting it confused with Henry VIII a day later after a lack of coffee. 

But I was pleasantly surprised to find I couldn’t stifle my giggles, along with the rest of the audience, at the brazen characters and their racy interactions in a very important historical story about a notable period – women being allowed on stage.

And I am glad Charles II changed the rules and allowed actresses to come into the light because Sophie Beaumont, who played the titular character, was fantastic.

She really encapsulated Ms Gwynn’s witty and humorous attitude from the moment she walked on stage, ready to show Ms Gwynn being trained by Mr Hart after heckling the playhouse.

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Herald Series: Jack Prince rightJack Prince right

My main take away was that watching the character of Mr Hart made me forget I was in the theatre. It seemed so effortless, comical, and moving in all the right places and he definitely stole the show.

Now…some people may say it is a bit awkward watching your old drama teacher from about seven years ago making sexual innuendos on stage.

I can confirm that it is.

However, Drew Morris made an excellent Charles II and even made the audience tense when feeling the royal presence in the room.

I may be biased but I never expected anything less after five years of learning about his theatre expertise. 

Herald Series: Sophie Beaumont middleSophie Beaumont middle

 “I can dance and I can sing and I am good at either” was chiming through my head for an hour after leaving the theatre after the cast of 16 performed it twice.

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I am not quite sure the play has the feminist message it intended – with Gwynn only returning to the theatre after the death of Charles II – but that is historic accuracy for you.

A brilliant performance and well worth the watch.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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