Venue: Theatre De Lys, New York City
About the character
Initially Betty spends most of her time confused and incapable of making any decisions of her own. She relies totally upon her husband Clive to provide direction in her life. Betty does not, however, lack a sense of adventure. She dreams of a relationship with Harry, wondering what life might be like outside of her own. Betty remains caught between her duty to family and her yearning for romance.
Then, a new Betty acquires a sense of independence and evolves into the play’s protagonist. This Betty is older, however, and prone to long-winded lectures and unsolicited comment. The new Betty finds independence intriguing, but frightening and her relationship to her children Victoria and Edward often seems to be the only thing to keep her sane.
Mrs. Saunders, a widow, exhibits a unique sovereignty in a world where women are expected to be dutiful mothers and wives. She is unafraid to wield her sexuality, and she demands respect from the men with whom she comes into contact. Mrs. Saunders has a sense of justice and does not readily accept British tradition and the habits of colonialists.
Ellen, Edward’s governess, possesses a strong sense of duty to Clive’s family. She is also dependent upon them and afraid of being sent away. Ellen, too, is working out her sexuality, and nervously tests her attraction to Betty at times. Ultimately, Ellen cannot reconcile her desires with her lot in life, and thus remains unhappy.
Descriptions from www.sparknotes.com