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Aisling Loftus to star alongside Vicky McClure in Nottingham Playhouse’s ‘Touched’

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Initial casting has been announced for Nottingham Playhouse’s 40th anniversary production of Stephen Lowe’s Touched, which runs at the theatre from February 17 to March 4, 2017.

Bafta Award winning star of This Is England, Line of Duty and Broadchurch, Nottingham born Vicky McClure takes her first major stage role as Sandra and will be joined by Screen International Star of Tomorrow and Nottingham Television Workshop alumni Aisling Loftus as Joan, who recently starred in the BBC’s War and Peace and will take on a key role in Jimmy McGovern’s upcoming Broken for the BBC, with Sarah Beck Mather who is best known for her work on ITV’s The Royal and Endeavour and stars in the forthcoming feature film Charismata, in the role of Bridie.

Stephen Lowe’s Touched is a powerful and poignant World War II drama set during the 100 days between VE and VJ Day and centred on the lives of a family of working class Nottingham women. The promise of a brave new world has arrived with peace in Europe and the election of the first ever Labour government. But the fighting is not yet over. With her husband away at war and having lost her son in a tragic car accident during the blackout, Sandra is torn apart by grief. Meanwhile, her sisters – the brash Joan and naïve Betty – are brimming with hope for the future and the possibilities of new lives ahead for all of them. Touched is a modern classic, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its premiere at Nottingham Playhouse.

Matt Aston says: “Vicky McClure was always my first choice to play the part of Sandra in Touched.  Despite the play premiering in 1977 it’s as if the play has been written for her.  It was my intention to cast the show with the authentic Nottingham voice at its core.  We’ve managed to achieve that and I couldn’t be more excited at the prospect of getting started.”

Giles Croft – Nottingham Playhouse Artistic Director says: “Presenting the 40th anniversary of the best known play by Nottingham’s most important playwright is a wonderful way to start the year; but to present for the first time with authentic Nottingham voices is particularly exciting. Add to that the formidable talents of Vicky McLure and Aisling Loftus and this production will make an important statement about the cultural and creative life of the city.”

Vicky McCLure won a Best Leading Actress BAFTA for her performance as ‘Lol’ in This Is England  86. She was nominated again for the same role in This Is England 88 and finished the story last year with This Is England 90, which was the last chapter in the cult show.  Originally learning her craft at the Nottingham Television Workshop, an acting school responsible for launching the careers of Jack O’Connell, Samantha Morton, Toby Kebbell and Joe Dempsie, she was discovered by Shane Meadows and starred in one of his earlier films A Room For Romeo Brass then was asked to join the This Is England family.  Vicky has gone on to star in many highly acclaimed TV dramas. These have included the hit BBC2 crime thriller Line of Duty, she played a steely and driven journalist in the first series of Broadchurch, which was a record breaking drama for the channel; True Love directed by Dominic Savage co-starred David Tennant and she recently starred in her first period drama, a brilliant reimagining of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent – a three-parter which also starred Toby Jones and Stephen Graham. Future projects include a ‘Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ style psychological thriller called The Replacement.

Screen International’s ‘Star of Tomorrow” Aisling Loftus has a wealth of experience in television, film and theatre. She is best known for portraying the key role of ‘Sonya Rostova’ in the BBC’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and is also recognized for her role of ‘Agnes Leclair’ in ITV’s EMMY award nominated Mr Selfridge.  Aisling will star alongside Anna Friel and Sean Bean in Jimmy McGovern’s forthcoming new six-part BBC drama Broken. She has recently completed filming the independent feature Property of The State in which she plays the leading role of ‘Anne Marie O’Donnell’, a young woman who must deal with the devastating effects of having a murderer as a brother. Next year she will be seen on the big screen with Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko in the feature film Salty.  In addition to her numerous TV and film roles, her stage career has included The Old Vic’s acclaimed production of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off and Anya Reiss’s Spur of The Moment at The Royal Court.

Matt Aston returns to Nottingham Playhouse following critically acclaimed productions of A Day In The Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols and the premiere of William Ivory’s Diary of a Football Nobody.  This is the fourth time that Matt has collaborated with Stephen Lowe, having previously directed premieres of Séance on a Sunday Afternoon, Empty Bed Blues and Smile – the latter seeing him pick up the Writer’s Guild Great Britain Encouragement of New Writing Award in 2008.  Further credits include collaborations with Olivier Award winning writer Mike Kenny – Red Riding Hood (premiere), Flat Stanley, Beauty and The Beast and Snow White (premiere) –  two further premieres by William Ivory – The Retirement of Tom Stevens and Bomber’s Moon – the latter transferring to the West End in Spring 2015 featuring James Bolam and Steve John Shepherd.  Further directing credits include the premiere of 4,000 Days by Peter Quilter, national tours of Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Becket and Zero by Chris O’Connell as well as pantomimes at Wakefield Theatre Royal, Theatr Clwyd and Leeds City Varieties.

Nottingham born Stephen Lowe’s plays have been staged at London’s Royal Court, (Touched, Body and Soul, Glasshouses, Tibetan Inroads) Royal Shakespeare Company (Divine Gossip and Ostrovsky’s The Storm) as well as works premiered at most of England’s leading repertory theatres including Birmingham Rep, Nottingham Playhouse, Sheffield Crucible, Liverpool Playhouse, Plymouth Rep, with touring companies like Joint Stock (with Ragged Trousered Philanthropists) and his own company, Meeting Ground. He has worked with theatre and tv/ film directors and producers including Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Bill Gaskill, Steven Daldry, Danny Boyle, David Leveux, Annie Casteldine, Alan Dossor, Thaddeus O’Sullivan, Michael Wearing, and the award-winning New Zealand team that created Once were Warriors, as well as composers like Rachel Portman and Michael Nyman. His TV/ film work includes original films like FleaBites (starring Nigel Hawthorne), Ice Dance with Warren Clarke, the adaptation of Scarlet and Black starring Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz, as well as numerous episodes of Coronation Street. His recent theatre work includes Revelations at Hampstead Theatre, his comedy Old Big’ Ead In the Spirit of the Man (Nottingham Playhouse 2005/ national tour 2006 directed by Alan Dossor) and The Fox and The Little Vixens for Tangere Arts touring company.  His work has been published, translated and performed throughout the world.

Posted on 18 November 2016

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