New Articles

Review: Julie Hesmondhalgh in Blindsided at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known for her long-running role as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, was first spotted by Granada in a previous production at the Exchange

Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh in Blindsided

Just a week after viewers saw her tearjerking final scenes on Coronation Street, Julie Hesmondhalgh took to the stage for her new role - cheered on by a host of her former co-stars.

Accrington-born actress Julie is starring in the much anticipated world premiere production of Blindsided at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.It is her first role since leaving Coronation Street 16 years after first joining the show as transsexual Hayley Cropper.

And for the play’s launch she was cheered on by a host of her former Corrie co-stars including on-screen husband David Neilson who plays Roy Cropper.

Blindsided is set in the concrete jungle of Stockport at the end of the seventies. Almost unrecognisable in a blonde wig, former Moorhead High School pupil Julie plays both the mother of young Cathy and doting grand-mother to her child.

In the second half of the play, set on the Isle of Man in the nineties, she plays the older version of her daughter. Both are beautifully performed. There are stunning performances too from Katie West as Cathy, a wild child who collides with John Connolly played superbly by Andrew Sheridan, in a manipulative, destructive relationship.

Rebecca Callard, watched by her proud mother Beverley, is also good as Cathy’s best friend. While the play explores the appalling consequences when two damaged people find young love only to be shattered by suspicion and betrayal, its time-line is also set against the political rise of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Tony Blair in 1997.

Although it’s not a political play in the true sense, the parallels of betrayal are obvious.

This production is directed by Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange, who has an affinity with Stephens’ work.

As a fan of Stephens’ work, I found this his darkest play yet and almost Jacobean tragedy in its themes of betrayal, revenge and blood-lust. Not for the faint-hearted.