Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Thomas Betterton: The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Thomas Betterton: The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

Article excerpt

Thomas Betterton: The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

David Roberts

Cambridge UP, 2010

55 [pounds sterling] (hb) 270, 11 b/w illus.

ISBN 9780521195843

This lively and engaging biography of Betterton offers a refreshing insight into the actor's life and times. Roberts's painstaking work in the Longleat archive adds to Judith Milhous's work on Betterton as manager and performer, by drawing on his relationship to his cultural milieu and his activities offstage and away from the professional London theatre. The volume opens with a revisionist reflection on the progress of Betterton's reputation through theatre history and suggests that Betterton "bore many of the hallmarks of the upwardly mobile petit bourgeois craving the decorum of cultural capital". He was thus a performer and figure aptly placed to champion the "virtues of a bourgeois [theatre] industry" (38). Betterton's early career as a bookseller's apprentice--for both John Rhodes and John Holden, Roberts's research suggests--led to his early performing career and reminds us of the close relation between the two lines of business, and the web of connections between the two realms. …

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