Glasgow theatre company to lift lid on Frankenstein’s origins

Mary Shelley. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Mary Shelley. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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A Scottish theatre company is to bring the life story of Mary Shelley to the stage to mark the 200th anniversary of her most celebrated creation – Frankenstein.

The show, which will premiere at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in April, will lift the lid on how her haunted dreams about the loss of a premature baby inspired her to write the story that would define her for the rest of her life.

Billed as “an outlandish trip through the mind of one of literature’s most influential imaginations”, The Monster and Mary Shelley will explore how the teenage writer recovered from the loss of her daughter to create the classic Gothic horror story.

Glasgow theatre company The Occasion has pledged to turn the story of its genesis into an “atmospheric, moving and at times darkly comic exploration of fear”.

Born in London in 1797, the then Mary Godwin was 17 when she met and fell for married poet Percy Shelley.

The couple left England for France then travelled throughout Europe together only for tragedy to strike when their baby daughter died after being born two months premature

The Monster and Mary Shelley will recall how the then 18-year-old began writing the novel in Switzerland in 1816 when she and other guests staying at the holiday villa of the poet Lord Byron were 
challenged to write a ghost story.

Shelley, who married her lover in December 1816, had given birth to another daughter by the time she finished Frankenstein, which was published anonymously to widespread acclaim on 1 January, 1818.

The company said the show would incorporate “elements of music hall, melodrama, horror and teenage rebellion with a pulsing cinematic score”.

Co-artistic director Peter Clerke said: “To create a work around the life of Mary Shelley has been a process of mining a rich, deep vein. While the many excitements and joys of her life were always paralleled with sadness and loss, Mary Shelley never lost sight of her beliefs in human dignity, equality and libertarianism.

“She was a woman many years before her time and maintains a striking resonance in the present day.

“We have tried throughout to make a work that celebrates her life while reflecting her continued relevance to the 21st century.

“The Occasion is very excited to be touring this show to communities across Scotland.

“We strongly believe in making theatre which is accessible to all. This tour very much realises our ambitions and we greatly look forward to welcoming audiences, throughout the country, to spend a night with Mary and her monster.”

Stewart Ennis, the writer of The Monster and Mary Shelley, added: “Victor Frankenstein describes the room where he assembles his creature as ‘my workshop of filthy creation’.

“Appalled that his creation is not as beautiful as he had imagined, and failing to recognise its heart and soul, he immediately abandons his ‘catastrophe’.

“If the show we have created in our ‘workshop’ is not always beautiful, that will be no 
catastrophe, but I do hope 
that it will have heart and soul.”