A new play exploring the remarkable life of one of literature’s greatest writers, Mary Shelley, opens at the Liverpool Playhouse from May 9 to 12. Written by award-winning playwright Helen Edmundson, Mary Shelley is a bold exploration of the radical beliefs and relationships that led the author of Frankenstein to write one of the greatest novels in history when she was just 18 years old.
Shared Experience theatre company brings to life the astonishing tale of Mary Shelley, and how she came to write one of the greatest stories ever told. This new play explores the author’s remarkable life — losing her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, at an early age; her father, the radical philosopher William Godwin; her scandalous elopement with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley aged 16; and how she wrote a novel so radical in its ideology, that in 1917 she changed the literary landscape forever.
Liverpool-born Helen Edmundson is an award-winning playwright whose work for Shared Experience includes The Clearing, War and Peace, Gone To Earth, Mill On The Floss and Anna Karenina. Other literary stage adaptations include the critically acclaimed Coram Boy (National Theatre) and Swallows and Amazons.
Polly Teale is artistic director of Shared Experience and directs Mary Shelley. Her work as a writer and director for the company includes Speechless, Brontë, Jane Eyre and After Mrs Rochester (Best Director, Evening Standard Awards; Best West End Production, Time Out Awards).
Playing Mary Shelley is Kristin Atherton whose recent credits include Enemy of the People and Confessions of the People (Sheffield Theatres) and The Importance of Being Earnest (English Theatre Of Vienna). She’s joined by Flora Nicholson as Fanny Wollstonecraft, and Ben Lamb as Percy Bysshe Shelley. William Godwin is performed by William Chubb. His recent stage roles include Eden End, Yes, Prime Minister and for television BBC One drama Silk. Shannon Tarbet is Jane Clairmont, with Sadie Shimmin completing the cast as Mrs Godwin.
Since the 1970s Shared Experience has been pioneering a performance style that they say “celebrates the union of physical and text-based theatre”; early work includes landmark productions of Arabian Nights and Bleak House. Since 1987, under the joint artistic directorship of Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale, the company has produced acclaimed adaptations of literary classics and new writing such as After Mrs Rochester, Mill on the Floss, War and Peace and The Glass Menagerie which both toured to the Playhouse to great acclaim in Capital Culture year and in 2010 respectively.