A 22-year-old actress has shared her joy as she prepares to take to the stage in an award-winning playwright's show.

Madeline Dearden, from Ramsbottom, will play the leading role in "The Guildford Poltergeist", taking on the challenge of playing a character almost a decade younger than herself.

She received "the call" while working at Warwick Castle, performing in the dungeons as various creepy characters.

She said: “I’d never seen a casting more fitted to my typecast because I’m always getting mistaken for being about 14 or 15-years-old, it comes in handy buying bus tickets.

Lancashire Telegraph: Madeline Dearden with Co-star Jude Pollit-Berthereau

“I was on holiday with my family at the time and had to banish them all from our hotel room so I could film a self-tape audition.

“It was probably the fastest I’ve ever had to learn a monologue.”

From there Madeline was invited to an in-person audition and later received a call from award-winning playwright Tess Humphrey with the good news.

She will play Joyce Starbuck, the youngest in a small family with her brother, Tristan, and mother, Kathleen.

Read more: Bolton born actress produces The Guildford Poltergeist

Lancashire Telegraph: Madeline Dearden in rehearsals

She is described as a feisty individual who comes across as shy and other-worldly.

Madeline added: “She has a mind of her own, often lacking the inhibitions that other people uphold.

“There was no word for neuro-divergent in the 60s when the play is set but her ’backward’ behaviour, as it’s called in the script, would probably come under that description now. 

“The most difficult part of playing Joyce is losing those inhibitions that come with being older and growing up a bit shy.”

Madeline added that playing a 13-year-old as a 22-year-old woman comes fairly easily because she has spent her adult life being mistaken for a child.

Lancashire Telegraph: Madeline Dearden

She said: “I do think it’s important, especially as an actor, to stay in touch with the child version of yourself.

“We had this discussion a lot in Warwick dungeons about how acting is a grown-up dress-up game.

“So it has been fun to be able to tap into that, whilst delving into trauma and details that children don’t recognise in themselves."

Madeline, who graduated from Lancaster University in 2022, has been praised for her performance by Tess and the show's producer, Bolton-born Keziah Lockwood.

Keziah said: “Madeline is amazing, especially the way she can transform into her character it is hard to believe her actual age at times.

Lancashire Telegraph: Tess HumphreyTess Humphrey (Image: Public)

“She has so much talent and completely amazed me and Tess, we are so happy to have her with us.”

She added that she was equally delighted to be a part of the production.

Keziah said: “When Tess asked me to be a producer on this production, I accepted right away.

“Her work is transcendent and so exciting to be a part of.

“When it comes to her plays, her work is intricate, you never know exactly how things will turn out and she keeps you guessing and creates a sense of wonder that the theatre is all about.”

The play "The Guildford Poltergeist" will be performed at The Kings Arms in Salford on February 16, 17 , and 18th and at Hope Street Theatre in Liverpool on February 23, 24 and 25.