ALTHOUGH she is best known for her TV roles, first as Little Mo in EastEnders and then as Cathy Keating in Grantchester, Kacey Ainsworth says that being part of a revival of the hard-hitting, intense drama Leaves of Glass “feels like coming home”.

The play, written by Philip Ridley, comes to Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre following a run at the Park Theatre in London which garnered five star reviews and a series of sold-out performances.

Lancashire Telegraph: Kacey Ainsworth

“It’s been really lovely to be involved in something like this,” she said. “Its success was mainly down to word of mouth with people who had seen it encouraging others to go which led to it selling out every night.

“It’s a great play and it’s really intense and I’m so pleased that we are getting the chance to continue with it and bring it to Manchester.”

Leaves of Glass sees Kasey playing Liz, mum to two grown up sons, one of whom is married. This quartet of actors revolve around each other in a world of family secrets and half remembered truths. It’s powerful, emotional and as Kasey confirms “brilliantly written”.

Performed on an almost bare stage Leaves of Glass places major demands on the actors. Traditionally a performance is ‘blocked’ in rehearsals - essentially meaning the actors are told where to stand at any one time during a production.

“With this there is no blocking whatsoever,” said Kacey.”It’s very fluid. We are doing something different every night; there is nowhere to hide.

“Our set is very sparse and there are few props but it is amazing what you can create with that and how much you tune in to the words and the language and the actual play when you are not distracted by stuff and nonsense.

“Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy pieces that do have the costumes and the lights and the brouhaha but what I enjoy most is amazing writing and the connection you make to other actors on the stage and we have to do that with this production.”

To an outsider that sounds like a pretty daunting task but for Kasey that was only half the story. She joined the production just a week before it was due to open in London.

“That was quite challenging,” she said matter-of-factly. “But you just draw on all your experience in situations like that. But I could also see from the first day of rehearsals when I was involved just how strong the rest of the cast was and I took great confidence from that.”

Nevertheless Kasey admits that she found opening night to be ‘petrifying’.

“With Philip’s language you have to get every single word correct; you can’t mess with it.Technically it was extremely difficult and there were times during rehearsal where I thought ‘I’ve bitten off more than I can chew’ and I’d find myself thinking ‘I don’t know how I’m going to cope with this’.

“But I grabbed the opportunity and just jumped in – that’s kind of how I work anyway. I make a decision and stick with it which can sometimes let me down but I’m happy to be strong and wrong. But with this it’s definitely been the right thing to do.”

Having spent six years in EastEnders, during which time she picked up various best actress’ awards, and then eight series of Grantchester, some people may be surprised to see Kacey on stage in a new work - Leaves of Glass was written in 2007 but this is a new production.

“Of course it’s lovely to have a role like Little Mo that people remember you for and now I’ve got Grantchester as well.

“But you don’t come into acting to play the same character for the rest of your life. For me I came into this business because I like playing different people and I like finding new things in characters.

“Most of my early career was spent in new plays, so this really does feel like going home rather than a totally new enterprise.

Lancashire Telegraph: Kacey Ainsworth in Leaves of Glass

“The great thing about a wonderful piece of writing, which Leaves of Glass is, is that when you look at it you can always find something fresh and new to it. Even now I’m still discovering things in the text, little pieces of the puzzle which haven’t struck me before. It’s a testament to Philip’s writing that it is so complex and yet so accessible.

“But what I really like is that it doesn’t answer all your questions. It doesn’t lead you by the hand so that you know at the beginning what’s going to happen at the end.”

Given the intense nature of the production, how does Kacey manage to switch off?

“What is happening on stage isn’t happening to me, it’s happening to Liz my character, so I am able to take her off at the end of the day.

“Yes, it is draining to have to find emotional depth in things and occasionally we have heard the audience exclaim under their breath because it is that intense. I do the same when we get to the end but I can let it all go at the bows.

“Some characters become difficult to leave behind because you’ve been playing them for so long. When I was filming EastEnders I was playing Mo for six days a week for six years and that was tough. I found her difficult to take off. I was being her more than I was being me.”

This will be the first time that Kacey has been to Manchester.

“I have been in shows in Liverpool a couple of time,” she said, “but never Manchester. I’m looking forward to it.”

It’s shaping up to be a very busy year for Kacey. After Leaves of Glass she’s got two projects which she will be filming.

“No I can’t tell you what they are,” she laughed. “but they will keep me busy until Christmas.

“But that’s the way this business is. There are so few good roles for women my age - she’s 54 - that when they come along you take them. But I’ve got to say that Leaves of Glass is a cracker as far as I’m concerned.”

Leaves of Glass, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, Monday, July 3 to Saturday, July 8. details from