On playing Lydia - the green-dressed monster
Hi, I’m Verity Mann and I’m playing the role of Lydia Robinson, Branwell Bronte’s mistress in We Are Three Sisters by Blake Morrison. It’s a perfect part for me. Lydia flounces on at the end of Act One, flounces off in Act Three and is seen no more. That means that while the rest of the cast are strutting and playing, I’ll be in the Green Room with my feet up and a nice cup of tea! Lydia is also a gift of a part because she is, as Carol Davies our director succinctly put, ‘a monster’. Vain, insensitive and condescending, she insults the much loved servant, Tabby, ousts Anne Bronte from her own bedroom, and breaks Branwell’s heart. All in a hideous green dress! I did toy with the idea of trying to make her more sympathetic, but it’s much more fun to play the villain!
In researching the real life Lydia Robinson, I realised that the characterisation is based on facts. She was suspected of having an affair with Branwell, her children’s tutor, under the nose of her ailing husband. Branwell expected her to marry him after Edward’s death, but she promptly ditched the penniless tutor and bettered her social standing by marrying a Lord. The discarded Branwell drank and doped himself to death. When we meet Lydia, in the gloomy parsonage in remote Howarth the shine is definitely going off the romance. “A woman ought to be treated with dignity, not slobbered over like a bone”. Hear, hear, Lydia!
We are Three Sisters will be performed by the Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, from 2 – 7 June. Tickets £9 (£5 students) from our booking site.
Verity Mann, May 13, 2018