Casting announced for Vassa Zheleznova at Southwark Playhouse

Vassa2Vassa is the head of the business, head of the family, a self-made millionaire. Exactly how far will she go to keep things that way?

Attacked by the striking dock workers, disregarded by her daughters, humiliated by her husband, and with few people to trust, this matriarch has got her work cut out.

Emily Juniper’s searing adaptation transposes Maxim Gorky’s seldom-seen masterpiece to the 1990’s Dockers’ Strike in Liverpool in a new production from award-winning ensemble The Faction.

Playwright, activist and sometime political exile Maxim Gorky (1868 – 1936) was a founder
of socialist realism and nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature five times. His revision
of Vassa Zheleznova was performed by every major Soviet theatre within 5 years of publication. This production commemorates the 80th anniversary of his death on 18 June.

Off-West End Most Promising Playwright Award nominee Emily Juniper’s debut play Restitution
was produced at the Edinburgh Festival, Theatre503 and later revived at the King’s Head Theatre.
Her other adaptations include Strindberg’s Miss Julie and Euripides’ Medea, both for The Faction.
Emily holds an MA in Illustration and Authorial Practice and combines her writing with unique
presentations of the text itself, winning a Design Award from the Newspaper Club for Worn.

Rachel Valentine-Smith is Artistic Director of The Faction. For The Faction: The English Premiere of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s An Arab Woman Speaks, My Last Duchess, Othello, Blood Wedding, Thebes, Romeo and Juliet and The Rape Of Lucrece, Duende, Prometheus as part of Reptember (Off West Award Nominated Season) at New Diorama Theatre and Dogs Dialogue, Faust and Metamorphosis as part of Transformations at Wilton’s Music Hall. Other credits include Mr Kolpert (Kings Head Theatre), Rola Cola (Arcola Theatre), Thatcherwrite (Theatre503), and The Highwayman (Edinburgh). Rachel is a Nesta Award Nominated Filmmaker and producer of Queen Lear (Edinburgh), The Faction’s Rep Seasons (Peter Brook And Off West End Awards), and the forthcoming national tour of The Talented Mr Ripley. Forthcoming projects also include King Lear in Lebanon (American University of Beirut).

The Faction is a critically acclaimed ensemble reinvigorating classic texts for 21st Century audiences. They have won the Peter Brook Equity Ensemble Award for their productions of Schiller in the UK, and the Off West End Award for Best Ensemble for their repertory seasons, and received 17 further nominations for their work in London, across the UK and internationally.


Luke Shaw plays Alexei / Sergei. His credits include 12 Angry Men (Garrick Theatre), The Country Girl (Apollo), Pericles (Lyric Hammersmith). He was a series regular on Judge John Deed (BBC).

Kate Sawyer plays Anna. Her credits include Richard III and Joan of Arc (The Faction), Guiltless (Arcola) and Early One Morning (Jermyn Street)

Amelia Donkor plays Liza / Rachel. Her credits include The Fruit Trilogy (Southbank Centre / West Yorkshire Playhouse), Breaking The Silence (Soho Theatre) and Richard III and My Last Duchess (The Faction).

Joss Wyre plays Luda. Her credits include Five Birds in a Cage (Optik), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Watch Your Head) and Jane Eyre (Rosemary Branch).

Christopher Hughes plays Melnikov. His credits include The Talented Mr Ripley (The Faction) for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Award at the Off West End Awards, Faust (Wilton’s Music Hall) and Romeo and Juliet and Joan of Arc (The Faction).

Nicole Hartley plays Nata. Her credits include The Taming of the Shrew and Othello (Guildford Shakespeare Company), Private Lives; Time and Time Again and Memento Mori (Frinton).

Andy McLeod plays Prokhov. His credits include Down and Out in Paris and London (New Diorama Theatre), Richard III (The Faction) and Macbeth (Young Shakespeare Company).

Siân Polhill-Thomas plays Vassa. Her credits include Romeo and Juliet (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds), Afterbirth (Arcola), Pig (New Diorama Theatre). Television includes Moving On (LA Productions) and Critical (Jon East).