Stage Beauty

Rated 3.0

In 1660s London, an actor specializing in female roles (Billy Crudup) loses his job when a royal decree allows women to perform onstage. Worse yet, the new female star (Claire Danes) is his former dresser. Directed by Richard Eyre and written by Jeffrey Hatcher (adapting his own play), the movie’s obvious inspiration is Shakespeare in Love—which is a pity, because it suffers by the comparison, with only fitful flashes of the kind of wit that filled the earlier movie to overflowing. On its own, however, it’s quite entertaining, with a refreshingly earthy take on the bawdy anything-goes atmosphere of restoration England—both in the theater and at court. Rupert Everett plays the merry monarch, Charles II, with dissolute languor, indulging the whims of his saucy mistress, Nell Gwynn (Zoe Tapper). J.L.