BARRY Purves, Altrincham Garrick's serial creative, has yet another hit on his hands, thanks in no small part to a tight and hugely talented all female cast who enjoy every second they spend on stage.
In this theatrical history lesson we're back in the 17th century and women are still finding their feet in the acting profession.
Despite breaking down the barriers, these ladies are still subject to abuse, the most vitriolic coming from hard of thinking men in audiences whose brains are still very much in their breeches.
April de Angelis's beautifully crafted play is a gift for Barry who has coaxed fine and flawless performances from his cast and created an equally engaging set full of theatrical clutter. A set that's very pleasing on the eye.
Leaving the Lauriston I was wondering why this piece isn't performed more often, with de Angelis serving up an engrossing tale full of humour and heartache, the latter largely restricted to the second half and a particularly distressing scene which I'm not going to divulge here.
In terms of performances, I really enjoyed Tabitha Rose Hughes and the way she develops her character, Nell Gwyn, and the way she makes her "grow up" before our very eyes. But it seems just plain wrong to single out individuals, with Lindsey Barker (Mrs Betterton), Meg Sally Royle (Mrs Marshall), Claire Cummins (Mrs Farley) and Ruth Metcalfe (Doll Common) more than rising to the challenges posed by their respective roles.
The actors making light of the demands posed by their verbally taxing roles, each of them not wasting a word o a script so good it's certainly left me wanting to see more by a dramatist who makes you care about these characters without seeming to try.
Every seat was taken in this fabulous little venue on opening night. It would be a travesty if that's not repeated throughout the run of a production that is, quite simply, outstanding.
* Until September 4. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ****