HDS tackle play that scandalised a king

A scene from Harrogate Dramatic Society's production of Ghosts.
A scene from Harrogate Dramatic Society's production of Ghosts.

THE curtain goes up next week on a play which scandalised a king as well as 19th century society in Scandinavia and Britain.

Ghosts, by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, is Harrogate Dramatic Society’s latest production in Harrogate Theatre Studio.

Directed by Frank Moorby, the play was deliberately sensational at the time, touching on what, at the time, was a regarded as “shocking indecency” with its frank treatment of a forbidden topic.

Outraged critics of the day wrote articles which attacked it as: “revoltingly suggestive and blasphemous” and for its “lugubrious diagnosis of sordid impropriety.”

Even the King of Sweden and Norway scolded Ibsen for what the monarch called “not a good play” to which Ibsen retorted: “Your Majesty, I had to write Ghosts!”

Today’s audiences are unlikely to be quite as shocked as those in 1882. Director Frank Moorby

takes the more enlightened 21st century view.

He said:

“In today’s world Ibsen’s plays are seen as hard-hitting exposures of the smug, male- dominated and hypocritical morality of the time.

“Because his targets existed everywhere and still exist today, his plays are still performed and still attract actors and directors fascinated by the wonderful roles he created. “Ghosts” is about taboos, dead conventions and self deception.”.

His cast of four of the society’s experienced actors take on the powerful story of a widow, Mrs Alving, dedicating an orphanage in memory of her late husband.

At the same time she is turning a blind eye to his philandering past with its disastrous and deadly consequences for her beloved son, Oswald.

The ghosts of the past return to haunt and torment her life.

l Ghosts is being performed at Harrogate Theatre Studio from next Wednesday to Saturday, February 25. Evening performances will begin at 7.45pm. with a Saturday matinee starting at 2pm.

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