Actress set for Ibsen challenge in her ‘anniversary’ year

Judy Methven as Mrs Alving with Robert Goldsbrough as her son Oswald in a scene from Harrogate Dramatic Society's Ghosts.

Judy Methven as Mrs Alving with Robert Goldsbrough as her son Oswald in a scene from Harrogate Dramatic Society's Ghosts.

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THE leading actress in the forthcoming Harrogate Dramatic Society production of Ghosts, this Henrik Ibsen play marks a significant milestone in her acting career.

It is 30 years ago this year that Judy Methven moved to Harrogate from Richmond, North Yorkshire, and became a new member of the Harrogate Dramatic Society.

Since then she has taken on a wide variety of roles, all testament to her range and versatility, from knockabout comedy to strong drama: from Edith in Allo Allo and Mrs Heidelberg in The Clandestine Marriage to Madame Arkadina in The Seagull.

Now in this her “anniversary” year she tackles one of the most challenging roles in theatre, Mrs Alving, the wronged yet protective widow in Ibsen’s scathing commentary on 19th century morality.

Judy is well aware she is about to tread in some notable footsteps.

She said: “It has been a part played professionally by the likes of Judi Dench, Jane Lapotaire and Vanessa Redgrave.

It’s a daunting prospect to have to follow those!”

Ghosts was first staged in 1882 and outraged Ibsen’s Victorian contemporaries who were offended by what they saw as the play’s shocking indecency and its more than frank treatment of a forbidden topic.

Mrs Alving is dedicating an orphanage in memory of her late husband, at the same time turning a blind eye to his philandering past with its disastrous and deadly consequences for her beloved son.

Judy said: “It’s an emotionally demanding and challenging role and I’m lucky to have such a strong cast with Frank Moorby as director to work with.”

Judy was no stranger to the theatre when she joined the society in 1982.

She made her acting debut at the Library Theatre in Sheffield at the age of 13 and has worked as a Speech and Drama teacher for many years, attaining the LGSM (Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) before moving to Harrogate. She has seen many of her students go on to all the major drama schools and has coached the winners of Harrogate & Wharfedale Festivals and the winners of LAMDA UK & Ireland Speech and Drama competitions.

Before joining HDS she was a prominent member of the Robin Hood Theatre near Nottingham and the Georgian Theatre at Richmond,

Judy herself has twice won Best Actress trophies, once for comedy and once for drama at the Harrogate Theatre Festival.

She recently won the Best Director award at the Nidderdale Festival and won Best Director awards during her time at the Georgian Theatre in Richmond..

l Ghosts runs at Harrogate Theatre Studio from Wednesday to Saturday, February 22 to February 25.

Evening performances will open at 7.45 pm with a Saturday matinee starting at 2 pm.

Tickets are available from the theatre box office 01423 502116 or on-line at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk