The perfect role does exist!
Mary Betterton is an absolute gift of a role for an actor. In real life she was one of the very first actresses on stage and feted as the best tragedian of her day. She came from a theatrical family and married one of the King’s Players’ leading men, Thomas Betterton. The play begins just as her star is waning and younger actresses are waiting in line to take the great roles. Her husband will, of course, continue to play the lead , partnered by fresh blood. Playhouse Creatures is set in 1669, and prompts us to ruminate on how little the lot of an actress has changed.
That said, the role of Mary Betterton could not be more perfect for me. Not only do I get to play her, in all her high restoration finery — I also get to play excerpts from her performances and rehearsals from Amazons through to maids but, time and time again coming back to her favourite; Lady Macbeth. It’s a challenge, but a thoroughly worthwhile one.
Playhouse Creatures is a gripping play set in a perilous time when rags to riches dreams really could come true, but equally, fortunes could reverse in the blink of an eye.
Verity Mann plays Mary Betterton in Saddleworth Players forthcoming production of ‘Playhouse Creatures’ at the Millgate Arts Centre from 2–9 February. Tickets from our booking site.
Verity Mann, Jan 17, 2019