English musician, singer-songwriter and actor David Essex is getting ready to roll up his sleeves for his return to the stage in a new play.

Essex, who recently portrayed Eddie Moon in the BBC’s EastEnders, will take on the lead role in The Dishwashers, which comes to Richmond next month.

The production, by Morris Panych and directed by Nikolai Foster, will see Essex star as a character called Dressler.

The show tells the tale of young Emmett, who as a high flyer in the city was used to being a customer in an upmarket restaurant but due to a reversal in his fortunes he find himself starting a new career there – as a dishwasher.

Dressler is one of his new colleagues, who has been happily scraping and scrubbing for more than 30 years and is a bit of a philosopher.

Dressler and fellow colleague Moss, who is well past his sell by date and heading for the dustbin, attack the endless supply of crockery with their new recruit.

The audience gets a witty and humorous insight into their world of dirty dishes, soapsuds and despair.

Essex took time out after the first performance at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, which he says they received a standing ovation for, to give audiences an idea of what to expect.

He says: “It’s a black comedy that seems to be very thought provoking. It’s going well. It’s a very close cast and a big challenge for the three of us, my character especially who goes from one thing to another.”

Essex is looking forward to coming to Richmond and says the philosophical thoughts the play presents are likely to have crossed most people’s minds at some point.

He says: “I think they cross most people’s minds. It’s about aspiration and duty. It’s got lots of things in it. It’s a fascinating piece. That’s why I agreed to do it.

“Unless it really sparks an interest to me I don’t think there’s a point in doing it. It’s the challenge that stimulates me.”

Essex says he is privileged to have worked in such diverse areas throughout his career, which has included theatre, films, television and music.

He recently completed two films; Traveller – the story of a boy and his search for his identity in the gypsy community – and Meet the Guvnors, a tale of gangland wars between two generations.

He starred on stage in Peter Hall’s production of She Stoops to Conquer in the West End and in numerous musicals including Evita, Godspell, All the Fun of The Fair, Mutiny and Aspects of Love.

The Dishwashers by Morris Panych, starring David Essex; Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Monday, March 3 to Saturday, March 8; Tickets £10 to £37.90; Call 0844 8717651 or visit atgtickets.com/richmond.