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The springboard for Helen Edmundson's latest play was one simple question.
How did a teenage Mary Shelley come to write a novel of such weight and power as Frankenstein?
The seed, she suggests, was sown when 16-year-old Mary (Kristin Atherton) returned from a break in Scotland to her family home in London's Clerkenwell and fell in love with Percy Bysshe Shelley (Ben Lamb).
The coupling formed a wedge in her already dysfunctional family, which was stitched together from different relationships much like the monster she went on to create. It forced her to challenge head-on the philosophies preached by her father, the radical thinker William Godwin (William Chubb).
The consequences of her refusal to live the life her father and stepmother Mrs Godwin (Sadie Shimmin) dictated are explored in a frustratingly selective manner. Her half- and step-sisters Fanny Godwin (Flora Nicholson) and Jane Clairmont (Shannon Tarbet), for instance, remain sketchy characters despite being adversely drawn into the consequences of Mary's decisions.
The way in which these choices and life events fuelled the ideas behind Frankenstein are equally selective but in some ways more informative. The dream sequence in which fresh life is breathed into Mary's first child amid crashing thunder is powerfully realised while the reconciliation scene between Mary and her father - during which the plot of her famous novel is outlined - draws the play's threads to a satisfying close.
These internal and external worlds are traversed through the use of a sparsely lit and populated stage which gives free expression to the physical theatre for which Shared Experience is renowned.
This is most impressively in evidence during the scene in which Mary imagines her mother Mary Wollstonecraft drowning. Brilliantly directed by Polly Teale, it sees Nicholson flapping her skirt and swirling her arms in a superb mime of someone being dragged under the Thames.
It's an impression that's heightened by Keith Clouston's watery soundscape, highly evocative throughout. Yet there are too few memorable scenes and it's the ideas raised in the play that remain with the audience at the conclusion.
Tours nationally until July 7, details at Shared Experience.