Accrington actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is to star in a play, which is based on the true and tragic story of a man who was killed with one punch.

The former Coronation Street actress has been announced in the cast of James Graham’s play Punch, which will premiere at the Nottingham Playhouse on May 4.

 Julie, who appeared in ITV show Mr Bates vs The Post Office this year, will play the role of the victim’s mother, Joan.

Punch is based on the book Right from Wrong by Jacob Dunne, an unflinching true-life account of how Nottingham teenager Jacob throws a single punch – with fatal consequences.

Released from prison, the parents of the victim ask to meet him. Their quest for answers results in an unlikely connection and Jacob’s life begins to turn around.

This new play examines the power of forgiveness while asking important questions about toxic masculinity, class and our education system.

Tony Hirst (Coronation Street, ITV; Hangmen, Royal Court and Wyndham’s Theatre) will play the role of the victim’s father, David, and Derby-born David Shields (Masters of the Air, Apple TV: Hush, Paines Plough at The Gate Theatre) will feature as Jacob Dunne.

Other cast members so far include Shalisha James-Davis (Casualty, BBC; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, London Theatre Company) as Claire and Emma Pallant (Cowbois, and A Christmas Carol, RSC; Enemy of the People, Nottingham Playhouse) as Jacob’s mother. Shalisha and Emma both hail from Nottingham, where the play is set.

James Graham said: “The more I’ve worked on Punch with Jacob, and with Adam, the more convinced I am of its power as a real story for our time. One that reveals so much about our current justice system, our culture, and the impact of politics on our community over the past decade. I’m so delighted with the cast we’ve assembled to come on this moving journey with us.”

Adam Penford, artistic director at Nottingham Playhouse and director of Punch, said: “We have been working on this powerful and unforgettable true-life story for four years. To now be announcing the cast, marking the return of Julie Hesmondhalgh to the Playhouse stage, alongside a formidable set of local actors, led by David Shields in the title role, is a significant moment.

"James Graham is an international writer of unparalleled talent. He returns to his home city of Nottingham with this vital play, which we hope will change hearts and minds in the way that only culture can.”

James Hodgkinson died after being punched by a stranger in Nottingham, in 2011.

19-year-old Jacob Dunne, was jailed for manslaughter and served 14 months of his two-and-a-half-year custodial sentence.

After leaving jail, Jacob has gone on to campaign against violence.