Shared Experience theatre company are back at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this month with their latest production ‘Mary Shelley‘. It’s a dramatic and powerful account of the late teenage years of Mary Godwin, later Shelley, and her very unconventional family and lifestyle during the years 1813-1816. Mary Shelley wrote and had published her famous novel ‘Frankenstein’ before she was 20. She married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was William Godwin a well-known political philosopher and novelist and author of ‘Political Justice’, published in 1793. Her mother was Mary Wollstonecroft author of ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ whose suicide is depicted at the beginning of the play.
Mary had two sisters Fanny and Jane. Jane Clairmont later changed her name to Clare Clairmont and was the mother of one of Lord Byron’s children, Clara Allegra. Read more about Mary here and here :
The play goes a long way in explaining the relationships between the members of this unconventional family and P. B. Shelley; those are ‘crazy mixed-up kids’. With only 6 actors and a versatile set consisting of a very large dining table which also doubles as a tombstone and a quay and a desk and even a bedroom plus several tall bookcases crammed with books and papers and boxes the words flow quickly and the tension mounts throughout.
I think that I have been far too influenced by the over-hype connected with all the Frankenstein-related films and books which, although I have never seen nor read any of them, have totally put me off reading the original book. A colleague highly recommends reading it and suggests that I put ‘Frankenstein, a modern Prometheus’ forward as a suggestion at my next book group meeting. And do you know? After seeing ‘Mary Shelley’ I think I probably will!