The Birth of Frankenstein tells us the story of Mary Shelley, the mother of science fiction, on her fateful trip to Geneva with Percy Bysshe Shelley. They are welcomed into the home of the infamous poet, Lord Byron, where they each pass the time by creating their own frightening tales.
The portrayal of that most magic of things: the conception and creation of a story
This is a great idea for a play, and I’m a big fan of stories that take storytelling as their focus. The atmospheric soundscape does a good job of immersing us in their chaotic world, and offering us a glimpse into the creative machinations of Mary Shelley’s mind. Director Nick Hennegan makes very creative use of the space, his staging offering subtle suggestions of a creaking ship, a lounge, a graveyard, a rowboat.
Teryn Gray gives a watchable performance as Mary, bringing strength through the character’s pain and adding a compelling element to the ‘story creation’ scenes. Jamie Patterson as Percy has a believable charm reminiscent of a younger James McAvoy, and shares a sweet chemistry with Mary. And Callum Pardoe achieves quite well the tricky job of snapping from Lord Byron to Frankenstein’s monster.
I particularly enjoy the portrayal of that most magic of things: the conception and creation of a story. This ability to produce something from nothing is given a powerful new context when shown in the aftermath of Mary’s failed pregnancies.
This is an interesting insight into the origins of one of literature's most celebrated novels, and fans of the classic Modern Prometheus will find plenty to enjoy learning about here.