Blackbird is a dark and chilling play flying in to the Royal Court Studio later this month. Globe arts critic Peter Grant goes behind the scenes to find out more.

NICK Bagnall is best known for his critically-acclaimed directing skills at the Everyman - now, after 13 years absence from the other side of the stage, he is going back to acting.

So what made him decide to tread the boards again?

Taking time off from rehearsals, Nick tells the Globe that it was something "he had to do" thanks to a stunning, relevant piece of drama from Southport-based Roots Theatre which has completely taken him out of his creative comfort zone.

The production was originally disrupted by Covid like many plays but now, after so many hurdles, it's finally ready for a much-awaited Liverpool run.

Nick said: "This is a play written in and set in 2005 that is stripped back and raw. Sharp and intense. It is about power and control.

"It focuses on Ray, who abused a young girl called Una when he was a grown adult.

"Years later she arrives, unannounced, at the office where he works. They haven't seen each other since that time. Together they recollect their relationship of fifteen years ealier when she was just 12 and he was 40."

Wirral Globe:

Director-turned-actor Nick Bagnall

Written by Scottish writer David Harrower, it tells how a young woman's life choices were taken away from her and how she is trying to come to terms wth her past.

Blackbird won several awards including best new play at the Oliviers in 2016.

It transferred to Broadway starring Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams.

It is the power and relevance of the one-hour play ans a 'cracking team' that swayed Nick's decision to act again.

He adds: "As a performer, I never thiought I would never go back on stage, but this play unlocked a passion that I had thought had gone.

"I wanted to challenge myself and do something which made me feel uncomfortable."

Appearing with Nick is Bex Culshaw as Una and Wigan-born star Harriet Bibby, who plays Summer Spellman in Coronation Street who has the demanding role of 'Girl'.

The play's title, points out Nick, is also darkly significant.

He says: "I read somewhere that a blackbird and its song is an uncovering of truths."

Nick hasn't completely let go of directing (here he shares the task with New Yorker Sasha Georgette) and is delighted that the drama has a thrilling soundscape with original compositions by Benji Riggs.

The Royal Court Studio is now one of the top North West venues for hosting new (and established) work with recent productions featuring graduates from their Stage Write programme.

Blackbird is tailor-made for the 150-seater but Nick and Roots Theatre hope it will have life after the Studio run.

Says Nick: "The thrill of being on stage again in such an important play in such a wonderfully intimate venue is thrilling.

"It will be very interesing to see how audiences respond to it in the current climate."

Blackbird is at Royal Court Studio from July 13 to 16.

Tickets are from 0151 709 4321.

There will be Q and As with cast and crew on July 13 and 14.