Set above and below the boards of a Restoration-era theatre, in a non-specified location in London, Playhouse Creatures is part paean to the art of being a thesp, but mostly an empathetic tribute to women past and present who have trod the boards in high heels and still got splinters.

The play focuses on five very different women who are performing plays by Shakespeare, and others, in rep. The story starts with a semi-fictionalised Nell Gwyn (Roseanna Frascona), who comes to the playhouse with lofty aspirations of becoming an actress. With her street smart ways she manages to convince the others to give her a role in their current play. From here on in, and despite a couple of noticeable hiccups, she quickly becomes the star of the theatre, and manages to capture the attention of Charles II.

The play’s narrative is a very loose and playful one, allowing room for tangents which become subplots and mini-dramas that threaten to derail the main thread of the story. It’s an approach that does inevitably result in a lack of forward thrust and dramatic tension at points, and which also leads the play to limp to a conclusion. That said, it allows for some funny and unexpected diversions and creates an atmosphere that is consistently surprising.

The acting is the production’s strongest suit, and the cast is uniformly strong. It’s an actor’s play really, and despite some potentially clunky characterisation, the warmth of the mini-ensemble of a cast really shines through. The play’s humanity is brought out by their expressive faces and refreshingly subtle approach to their characters.

It’s a low-key piece, but the simplicity and the intimacy of the space at the OFS do the play a world of favours, and the result is a diverting evening. For quality acting, and to see a play which is the darling of fringe theatre groups, then head down to see Playhouse Creatures. It runs until Saturday evening.