Audience members left in tears over new incredible play in Nottingham Playhouse

Punch at the Nottingham Playhouse
Punch at the Nottingham Playhouse -Credit:Marc Brenner

Debuting at Nottingham Playhouse, Punch is a new play that focuses on the story of Jacob Dunne, a young man from The Meadows who killed someone with a single punch back in 2011. Over the course of two hours, the audience is taken on a journey and shown how Jacob grew up, the events of that adrenaline-fuelled night, and the fatal consequences that followed.

David Shields gave an absolutely incredible performance as Jacob, and truly held the audience in the palm of his hand the entire night. as he showed how his character changed from a gangster to a campaigner. Meanwhile, the other cast members, Emma Pallant, Shalisha James-Davis, Tony Hirst, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Alec Boaden, all gave wonderful performances in each of their many roles.

Especially Julie, Tonu and Emma as the parents, every time one of them entered the stage I just wanted to go and give them a hug. The music choices were perfect as well throughout to add the atmosphere, and at times even the silence was plenty to leave audience members on the edge of their seat.


The quick-paced play was jumping forwards and backwards in time with flashbacks and reflections, and whenever it cut to James' parents the audience was so silent you could hear a pin drop, with the tension steadily building throughout. With a simple set and adaptable costumes the story was really brought to life and by the end of the play most of the audience had shed a few tears or were about to.

It was chilling to hear about how it all happened, but despite being such a serious topic the play was able to stay light-hearted at times and relatable with Nottingham slang and jokes now and then. It was also strange but nice hearing about Nottingham and The Meadows on stage, as often plays are set in London, somewhere made up or the writers are careful not to name a location at all.

However, the constant Nottinghamshire links throughout really helped convey how real the situation was, and how this all happened to a real group of people more than a decade ago. It was definitely a play I would recommend to anyone, and it is based on the book Right From Wrong by Jacob Dunne which I now plan to read as well.

It was also lovely to see a tribute notice when entering the theatre dedicating the production to the real James. It was the sort of play that leaves people thinking afterwards and is heartbreakingly brilliant.