Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Berenice and Shakespeare

Berenice's mother, Betty Lawson, in the role of Macbeth
As a teenager, Berenice loved reciting poetry and reading Shakespeare with her mother. Betty, ever the actress, was a member of the Thea Rowe Group. Gwen Friend, sister of artist Donald Friend (also Ken’s cousin) and Gwen Plum, well known Australian actor comedian, were also members. 

During the war years they travelled to many unusual places to give concerts to servicemen. In contrast to the Tivoli showgirl type of shows, they gave the troops excerpts from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Major Barbara and other highly acclaimed plays. When Betty was learning her lines, Berenice loved reading the other parts. Berenice’s 'rank Australian accent' came in for a lot of criticism from Betty who constantly told her to ‘speak properly'.

Macbeth was their favourite play and Berenice was delighted when it was included as part of her studies for the Leaving Certificate.

Lady Macbeth was Betty’s preferred role. Dressed in a long black velvet dress, her hair entwined in pearls she seemed to relish the handwashing scene. Always being one for washing hands she would dramatically declare “Out damned spot, out I say!” as her character tried to wash away the memory of murder. 

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