IT is a common saying, 'Truth is stranger than fiction'.

Even so, some stories really take the biscuit. Nell Gwynn is one of them: the dazzling, and crucially true, rags to riches story of a humble orange-hawker cum King's mistress in Restoration England.

We are introduced to the titular Nell (Laura Pitt-Pulford) selling fruit and brashly interrupting rehearsals in the burgeoning West End.

Her quick wit and cheeky demeanour catch the attention of Charles Hart, a flamboyant actor and notorious rake.

Having taken a fancy to the brazen young thing he offers to train her in the ways of the theatre - a gamble at a time when no woman graced the stage and (rather one-dimensional and grotesque) burly men in petticoats trod the boards as fragile heroines.

Following a somewhat rough start, she takes to acting like a duck to water, earning the affections of the hoi polloi and King Charles II himself. To the shock and horror of Edward Kynaston (exuberantly portrayed by Esh Alladi), the troupe's over-the-top resident belle, whose position is suddenly threatened by the arrival of a real woman at the company.

As Ms Gwynn, Laura Pitt-Pulford is without fault. Bawdy, tender, steely and surprisingly idealistic, she brings vivacious energy to the role - especially to the musical numbers. Ben Righton too is excellent as the put-upon Charles II, a man who seeks to make a virtue of idleness, and longs for authenticity in a world of politics and conspiracy.

What brings this nuanced comedy to life are the splendid musical numbers. Impeccably choreographed, they are a testament to the vision of director Christopher Luscombe.

Though catchy, the 'ditties' (and show) never veer into Lloyd-Webber territory but simply complement the plot.

If you’re game for a little cheeky fun, the Olivier Award-winning Nell Gwynn isn’t a play to be missed. Accomplished and accessible, it is a true achievement.

Nell Gwynn runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday, April 29.