"It often feels like we're losing the ability to be shocked anymore," says former EastEnders actress Michelle Collins, who is starring in Chickenshed Theatre Company's autumn production of Kindertransport. Set on the brink of World War Two, nine-year-old Eva is sent to Britain for refuge from Nazi Germany, with little more than a suitcase and an identity label and throughout the rest of her life, she is haunted by her wartime experience.

The play tells a tale of mothers, daughters and building a new life, but the themes of survival also resonate with current events such as the refugee crisis that is affecting huge numbers of people around the world today.

Michelle has appeared in a number of soaps over the years but her most well-known roles are as Cindy Beale in EastEnders and Stella Price in Coronation Street. She has also starred in Doctor Who and Jacqueline Wilson's The Illustrated Mum in 2003, which won an Emmy Award and two BAFTAs.

Steering the conversation away from her on-screen past Michelle is keen to talk about Chickenshed's moving and thought-provoking new play, which is directed by her old friend Lou Stein, who gave Michelle her first acting role when she was 18-years-old in The Crimson Island at the Gate Theatre which he founded in Notting Hill.

Michelle believes that people should not turn a blind eye to the horrors of World War Two and admits that being involved in the play and researching her character, the grown-up Eva, has been a huge learning curve.

The 55-year-old says: "Before getting involved, I didn't realise the amount of people that came over to the UK during the war and how awful it was at the time.

"I met two women who were kindertransport children and it was amazing to hear their stories and learn more.

"It will raise awareness of this horrific time that people may not have known a great deal about before."

Michelle adds that the play may also make people look at the current political situation, as during the war many western countries stepped in to look after children who had escaped their dangerous homelands and were evacuated to strange new countries to be safe.

She explains: "Without getting too political with what is going on now with child refugees, it is like we're becoming desensitised to the horrors of war and we're so worried about our own lives and things that are affecting us that it has an effect on how sympathetic we are to other people's plights.

"We are incredibly lucky that we are living in a country like the UK as bits of this are still happening in other countries. England stepped in during World War Two and so did Ireland and a lot of children went to Canada.

"What would have happened if we didn't step in to help those children? They would have perished with their parents, so it really does make you think about today's world."

Michelle wanted to get involved in the play as she has been a supporter of Chickenshed for 18 years and her daughter was also a member as a child. She praises the company for its family atmosphere and inclusivity.

She says: "It has been great to work with Lou again. Over the last couple of years we have stayed in touch anyway as we sent each other plays, but there was a long period of about 20 years where our paths didn't cross. He is a fantastic director.

"I remember working with him the first time, There was about 20 others in the cast and we all shared a dressing room above a pub at The Gate, before it went on to become a very famous theatre. It was an amazing experience and was the first professional job that I had ever done."

Growing up in Islington, Michelle describes herself as a "proper" north London girl and still lives there now.

She admits that she didn't do any theatre at school due to being quite shy and preferred English after winning a writing competition.

She says: "I joined a youth theatre near where I lived and that is where it all started. It was tough and nobody in my family was in the business so I had to work to work very hard.

"I think you have to be very hungry in this industry and I would say to people to think very carefully if you want to make a living out of acting. However, it is a way of life for me and I wouldn't have done anything else."

Kindertransport, Chickenshed Theatre, Chase Side, Southgate, Enfield, N14 4PE, Tuesday, September 27 to Saturday, October 22, 7.30pm. Details: 020 8292 9222, chickenshed.org.uk