THERE’S an action packed week coming up at Malvern’s Festival Theatre over the next few days.

The winner of the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, Jessica Swale’s blissfully funny Nell Gwynn, embarks on its first ever UK tour, direct from critically acclaimed sell out runs in the West End and at the Globe Theatre.

Not only will there be the regular evening and matinee performances there will also be a range of access performances including a relaxed performance at 2.30pm on Thursday (March 16).

This performance will extend a warm welcome to people who may feel overwhelmed by the ordinary scheduled performance. The auditorium will have ambient lighting and the actors appreciate and understand that audience members are free to move around and possibly make noise during the performance.

Meanwhile on Wednesday afternoon there will be an audio described performance and touch-tour and a captioned performance at 7.30pm on Thursday.

There are concessions for patrons with disabilities and their carer may attend for half price and anyone interested in attending should contact Bridget Lloyd (01684 580956) for more information about access performances.
 Nell Gwynn tells the story of an unlikely heroine, who went from lowly orange seller to win the adoration of the public and the heart of the King.

We are taken back to 1660 Drury Lane. Charles II has cast off London’s drab, puritanical past with a love of all things loud and sexy. A young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence in the burgeoning West End theatre scene unaware of who is in the audience one fateful night.

Playwright Jessica Swale has quite a theatrical pedigree both as director, writer and entrepeneur.

She’s also Artistic Director of the Red Handed Theatre Company, which she helped set up, and her first play, Blue Stockings was performed at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2012 and is a Drama GCSE set text.

Other writing includes a new play, The Mission, about illegal adoptions in the 1920s. Not only is she an Olivier Award winner, she also won a BAFTA JJ Screenwriting Bursary in 2012 and her current commissions include the screenplay of Nell Gwynn for Working Title, the Horrible Histories Movie and Love [Sic], a new play for BBC Radio 4.

The much lauded Christopher Luscombe directs and he too is someone with many theatrical credits including work for the RSC at Stratford and numerous London venues where he directed shows such as The Madness of George III (Apollo Theatre), Travels With My Aunt (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre).

As for this week’s show Laura Pitt-Pulford plays Nell Gwynn.

She has appeared in Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible), Oliver!, The Sound of Music, Piaf, Hello Dolly! (Curve), The Smallest Show on Earth (UK tour), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), and many others.

Nell Gwynn is at the Festival from Tuesday, March 14, to Saturday, March 18.