I just watched a truly excellent film called Stage Beauty. It really
surprised me. I heard it was good, it really was great. It reminded me
of Shakespeare in Love but with a better story, deeper theme and all
around better performance from the cast. It co-starred one of my
favorite new actresses Claire Dane (who was excellent in Shop Girl) and Billy Crudup (also excellent in Almost Famous and Jesus's Son.
The film takes place in the 1660's in London where it is illegal for woman to appear on stage in theatre. So male actors would have to take the female roles. Crudup plays a very famous actor of the time, Edward Kynaston. King Charles II did away with this law and such actors as Kynaston were without a job or had to learn how to act like a man on stage.
The real star of the film is Dane with her portrayal of Margaret Hughes the
first of the female actresses in London. I discovered with a quickgoogle search after watching the film that these are indeed real people. The film has Hughes and Kynstaon as lovers in the end but I have found no evidence of that. Later in life, Hughes married a Duke and I cannot find much about Kynaston other than that he became a very successful Shakespearean actor late in his live.