In this scene, Mrs. Betterton is speaking (we assume because we don’t actually hear his voice or see him on stage) to Mr. Betterton. She begins with the lines ‘Thomas? Thomas? It is the matter we discussed at breakfast. You remember? ’. This should give the audience the feeling that she is slightly nervous about broaching the subject of a previous conversation again and that when this had been talked about before, no conclusion had been made. I think Mrs. Betterton should speak this as if speaking to ‘Thomas’, out in to the audience.
This gives the audience the ability to see all her emotions laid out in front of them because they can see all her facial expressions clearly. She should say these lines timidly and perhaps with a sigh suggesting that she already has tried to raise a conclusion. The fact that she is addressing Mr. Betterton about this also shows that women are inferior to men and that men have more say in the ways of business. Shortly after broaching the subject to Mr. Betterton, she starts to go off topic “There is scarcely a fellow that does not sport one. Bristly or fluffy.
You cannot step out of doors nowadays but you see a periwig advancing towards you at great speed and in danger of toppling’ again, the fact that she has deviated from the subject again means that she is worried about asking the question straight out. This again shows that she knows he is more powerful and could have anything done to her as a consequence. We assume that they are married, meaning they have a lose relationship. However, Mrs. Betterton is still stepping on eggshells around her husband. This line should be spoken with nervous laughter and she shouldn’t know what to do with her hands.
She could be looking to the floor to show that she is a lower status than her husband and occasionally glancing up to see his reaction and then make an expression according to that. She should speak the lines fast as if to get them over with as quickly as possible. She continues to procrastinate throughout the speech; ‘no my dear, we were not referring to your particular wig’, ‘squashed’, ‘yes, I explained that it was your lucky hat dear, passed down through generations’, and lastly, ‘we need a new cupboard for the cheese especially’.
When Doll enters the tiring room, she asks after the conclusion of the questioning and Mrs. Betterton says ‘He has to answer to higher than himself, remember. ’ This shows that she is proud of her husband being high up in the theatre world and that she wants to let everyone know and speculate to with whom he is answering to. She should say this as if she is better than everyone else, she is married and her husband is in a high place. She should turn her nose up at Doll and say the words in a condescending way to show the audience that she thinks she is better than them.
In the next part of the play, we see a real change in Mrs. Betterton. We are used to seeing her being snobby and above everyone else, thinking that she rules the roost and in this part of the scene we see her open up to Doll and see that because of her age, she is no longer valid and successful member of the actresses. We know this because she says ‘It keeps weary hands occupied during long plays when ones appearance is minor’. Here we see that she is no longer being given large parts and has to use something as cheap and uninteresting as yarn to keep herself occupied.
The audience should feel sorry for her in this part of the scene and realise that she really loves acting and that without it she hasn’t got much to live for in her life. Mrs. Betterton should be getting teary in this small speech because it has also dawned on her that she can’t do the same job that she has been doing for so many years. Mrs. Betterton then starts to speak about hearing voices, this gives the audience an idea that she might be going a little crazy in the head, perhaps from old age or from depression ect.
Mrs. Betterton says her wedding ring was ‘in the slops bucket’, this gives the audience the impression that perhaps her marriage is failing and that the slops bucket signifies her an Mr. Betterton’s relationship. As she says this whole section, she should be getting increasingly more and more vague giving the impression that it could all be a dream and she’s not really hearing voices at all. She should be pacing up and down the stage and changing the pitch of her voice as if she is losing control over her body and vocals.
The voices could also signify that she has spent too much time in the theatre and all the parts she has played have come back to ‘talk to her’. In the next part of the scene, Mrs. Betterton is playing Cornet, the ladies maid. Again, this is significant to the decline of her acting. She is no longer the biggest part but a very small and insignificant one with not many lines. However, the lines she has got, she should say in a very restoration style of acting. She should be declamatory and over exaggerate her facial expressions, her accent should be one similar to her own yet more upper class but still with a cockney accent!
‘Your ladyship looks very ill, truly. ’ – On this line she should look gravely into the audience yet in a mischievous way as if she is relishing the words. When she exits the stage she should do a very big and enthusiastic curtsey to match the restoration style of acting. “Ma’am. ’ Should be said with perhaps an eye roll towards the audience and I would want to give the audience something to laugh at in this scene because It is all very over exaggerated and funny. When Mrs. Farley comes in as Pipe, Mrs. Betterton immediately starts to try and take control of the situation. ‘Someone else will have to be Pipe’.
She should say this dismissively as if she doesn’t care whom, anyone would be better than a pregnant actress. She continues to say ‘you will not do, not in your present way’ – this signifies that a woman had nowhere to turn to when she became pregnant and that working in the theatre was not an option. When Mrs. Betterton says these lines she should be looking down her nose at Mrs. Farley and say the words with a sigh and an air or ‘I’m much better than you and I’m the boss around here’. The next part of the scene is the most shocking in my opinion. We see different sides of all the women, especially Mrs.
Farley and Mrs. Marshall. At the beginning of this section they are all talking about giving Mrs. Farley an abortion and we see an all-knowing side of Mrs. Betterton. ‘There’s no choice in the matter’ this suggests that she may have been through a similar thing herself in previous years or perhaps that she has seen other women have the same thing done. This is designed to shock the audience because they realise that there is not a chance Mrs. Farley can keep her job. Mrs. Betterton should say these lines with regret but with determination and should be seen that she actually wants to help Mrs.
Farley out of the situation she is in. Mrs. Betterton’s last line in this scene is ‘its very pretty, but not to my particular taste’ – she doesn’t buy the petticoat from Mrs. Farley because she believes that she could help her better by giving her an abortion. This shows the audience that women in this age were very desperate and that for a small amount of money, Mrs. Farley is prepared to sell the items off of her back. This scene is very sad and the audience should feel pity for all the characters as they watch their fellow actress leave to what will most likely be a very difficult life on the streets of London.