Sherlock star Amanda Abbington and Coronation Street’s Julie Hesmondhalgh will return to the stage next month to appear in the Royal Court Theatre’s forthcoming school-set drama God Bless The Child.
Playing from 12 November in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, the screen pair will be joined by Royal Court regular Nikki Amuka-Bird and Ony Uhiara alongside two groups of eight-year-old actors who will alternate the roles of the feisty pupils of Class 4N each night.
Inspired by playwright Molly Davies’ experience as a Teaching Assistant, God Bless The Child imagines a mutiny of eight-year-olds taking the new ‘Badger Do Best’ behavioural initiative as inspiration. Tired of being guinea pigs in yet another government scheme, the kids are fighting back. Can the class of 4N bring down the education regime set to pacify them?
Ready to take on the kids as the educational officer sent in to implement the scheme is Abbington who returns to the stage following her last appearance 10 years ago in Hampstead Theatre’s Love Me Tonight. The actor will be a well-known face to many for her role as Mary Morstan in the BBC’s hugely popular series Sherlock, as well as her other many regular appearances in shows including Mr Selfridge and Case Histories.
Her co-star Hesmondhalgh, who has worked extensively at the Manchester Exchange Theatre, is equally best known for a long-running screen role following her acclaimed performance as Hayley Patterson in ITV’s soap Coronation Street.
While the role will mark both Abbington and Hesmondhalgh’s Royal Court Theatre debuts, Royal Shakespeare Company regular Uhiara, whose many London credits include 66 Books at the Bush and Eurydice at the Young Vic, returns after more than a decade’s absence following 2003’s Fallout, while Small Island star Amuka-Bird was most recently at the theatre in April starring in Birdland.
Making up the all-important children’s cast are Nancy Allsop, Lahaina Asumang, Darwin Brokenbro, Lara Decaro, Cedric Essumang, David Evans, Colby Mulgrew, Bobby Smalldridge, Grace Taylor, Lizzie Wells, Joseph West, Tyla Wilson and Rocco Wright.
The production will play in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 20 December and is directed by the venue’s Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone.