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Full casting announced for Howard Brenton's The Shadow Factory

Wed 9 January, 2019

Full casting announced for Howard Brenton's The Shadow Factory

Director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Sam Hodges today announces the full cast for his production of Howard Brenton’s The Shadow Factory which returns to celebrate NST City’s first anniversary after opening the space with a sell-out run last year. The cast includes Denise Black (Lady Cooper/Ma Dimmock), Bethan Cullinane (Jackie Dimmock), Joe Tracini (Len Gooch) and Michael Fenton Stevens (Lord Beaverbrook) joining returning cast members David Birrell (Fred Dimmock/Hugh Downing), Catherine Cusack (Lil Dimmock/Sylvia Meinster) and Shala Nyx (Polly Stride). The production opens on 1 February, with previews from 30 January, and runs until 2 March.


Autumn 1940. The Battle of Britain rages.

Southampton is home to our only hope of victory: the Spitfire.  But when the Luftwaffe drops 2,300 bombs in three devastating raids, the city goes up in flames and the Woolston Supermarine Spitfire factory is destroyed.

Jackie is the third generation of Dimmock at her family-run laundry.  Polly is the first and only draughtswoman in the Spitfire design office.  How will each woman forge her own path in this evolving landscape?

From the ashes, a story of chaos, courage and community spirit emerges.

One of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, Hampshire-born Howard Brenton tells the remarkable and little-known story of how Southampton stepped up when the chips were down.

Critically acclaimed, this sell out smash hit features a stellar cast supported by a 25-strong community company made up of Southampton residents. The Shadow Factory returns to celebrate the first birthday of Southampton’s brand-new theatre NST City.  


Howard Brenton has written over 50 plays. His most recent credits include Miss Julie (Theatre by the Lake/Jermyn Street Theatre), Paul, Never So Good (National Theatre), In Extremis (Shakespeare’s Globe and tour retitled Eternal Love), Anne Boleyn (Shakespeare’s Globe, plus revival and tour, winner of the WhatsOnStage Best Play Award and UK Theatre Awards Best Touring Production), 55 Days, #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei, Drawing The Line, Lawrence After Arabia (Hampstead Theatre), The Guffin (one act play, NT Connections), Doctor Scroggy’s War (Shakespeare’s Globe), Ransomed (one act play, Salisbury Playhouse) and The Blinding Light (Jermyn Street Theatre). Versions of classics include The Life of Galileo and Danton’s Death (National Theatre) and Goethe’s Faust (RSC). Other adaptations include The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (Liverpool Everyman/Chichester Festival Theatre) and Dances of Death (Gate Theatre). For television, he wrote 13 episodes of the first four series of the BBC Television Drama Spooks (winner of the BAFTA Best Television Drama Series 2003).


David Birrell returns to play Fred Dimmock/Hugh Downing. His theatre credits include Describe the Night (Hampstead Theatre), The Death of King Arthur (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Peter Pan, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ragtime (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), The Last Days of Troy (Royal Exchange Theatre/Shakespeare's Globe), A Little Night Music (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre/Palace Theatre), Company (Sheffield Theatres), Passion, Grand Hotel (Donmar Warehouse), Spamalot (Palace Theatre),  Oh! What A Lovely War (National Theatre), The Gates of Paradise, The Jewess Of Toledo, The Venetian Twins, Love's Labour's Lost, Moby Dick, The Tempest, Murder in the Cathedral, Hamlet, Columbus and Romeo and Juliet (RSC); and for television, Holy Flying Circus, Buried and Angels.


Denise Black plays Lady Cooper/Ma Dimmock. Her theatre credits include Machinal (Almeida Theatre), The Cherry Orchard, The Mistress (Sherman Theatre), Pack (Finborough Theatre), Sisters (Sheffield Theatres), Bedroom Farce (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Long Road (Soho Theatre), Aristo (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Seagull (Royal Court Theatre), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Liverpool Playhouse), Yerma, Mrs Warren’s Profession (Royal Exchange Theatre) and The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband (Nottingham Playhouse/Theatre Royal Plymouth). Her television credits include as series regular Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street, Joanie Wright in Emmerdale and Hazel Tyler in Queer as Folk. Other television appearances include Bad Girls, Small Island, To the Ends of the Earth, No Angels, Peak Practice and The Vice; and for film, Last Orders

Bethan Cullinane plays Jackie Dimmock. Her theatre credits include Scarlett (Hampstead Theatre), Cymbeline, Hamlet, The Rest is Silence (RSC), Twelfth Night (Rose Bankside), Othello, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Ladybird (New Diorama Theatre).

Catherine Cusack returns to play Lil Dimmock/Sylvia Meinster. Her theatre credits include Judith: A Parting From The Body, Fragile, The Factory Girls (Arcola Theatre), Ghosts (The New Vic), All That Fall (Arts Theatre/ 59E59 New York), Bingo (Chichester Festival Theatre/Young Vic), The Two Character Play (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Early Bird, The Gigli Concert (Finborough Theatre), What Fatima Did, Bold Girls (Hampstead Theatre), Uncle Vanya (Wilton’s Music Hall), The Venetian Twins (The Watermill Theatre), Bronte, Mrs Warren’s Profession (Lyric Hammersmith), Our Lady Of Sligo (National Theatre) and Prayers Of Sherkin (The Old Vic). Her television credits include Jonathan Creek; Ballykissangel and Cadfael; and for film, Finding Neverland, Conspiracy of Silence, Boxed and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.

Shala Nyx returns to play Polly Stride. Her theatre credits include Cookies (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Every You Every Me (Oxford Playhouse/Reading Rep), Her (Half Moon Theatre), Bollywood Jack (Tara Arts Theatre), As You Like It (UK tour), Henry VI (Wales Millennium Centre), Stoning Mary (Criterion Theatre) and Love for Love and The Heresy of Love (Bristol Old Vic).

Michael Fenton Stevens plays Lord Beaverbrook. His theatre credits include 100 Hearts (Adelphi Theatre), Radio Active (UK tour), Queen Anne (Swan Theatre/Theatre Royal Haymarket), Yes Prime Minister (Gielgud Theatre/Apollo Theatre), Stand (Battersea Arts Centre), It’s a Wonderful Life (New Wolsey Theatre) and English Tragedy (Watford Palace Theatre). His television credits include Action Team, The Crown, Benidorm, New Tricks, Josh, Mrs Biggs, Not Going Out, My Family, Only Fools and Horses, Mr Bean, Outnumbered and KYTV; and for film, Lady Godiva - Back in the Saddle.

Joe Tracini plays Len Gooch. His theatre credits include Spamalot (UK tour) and Sexual Perversity in Chicago (Landor Theatre), His television credits include series regular Dennis Savage in Hollyoaks, DK in Coming of Age and Spike Bannon in My Spy Family. Other television credits include The Great Outdoors, Inn Mates and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and as a presenter on The Dengineers.

Samuel Hodges is Director of The Shadow Factory and of Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST). His productions for NST includes Dedication - Shakespeare and Southampton, following The Glass Menagerie in 2015. Previously he founded the HighTide Festival Theatre in 2007 and was the Artistic Director for five years, during which time he produced over 25 new plays, co-producing with the National Theatre, The Old Vic and the Bush Theatre, amongst others. Between 2012 and 2014, he ran the Criterion Theatre in London's West End, for whom he curated a late-night programme and a one-off summer season of new work to celebrate the London Olympics.

Anthony Lau returns as Associate Director. His directing credits include A Better ManThe Cherry Orchard (Young Vic), Juicy and Delicious (Nuffield Southampton Theatres), The Common Land (Rose Theatre Kingston), Dreaming America (Shoreditch Town Hall), Still Life/Red Peppers (Old Red Lion), The Taste of Us (HighTide) and I Am A Camera (Southwark Playhouse). His Associate/Assistant Director credits include Ink (Duke of York’s), The Glass Menagerie (Nuffield Southampton Theatres), First Light, Canvas (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Hudsucker Proxy (Liverpool Playhouse/Nuffield Southampton Theatres), King Lear (Chichester Festival Theatre/BAM), Mint (Royal Court Theatre), Bingo (Young Vic) and Hungry Ghosts (Orange Tree Theatre).


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