Mary Shelley: Muthamonster – London Horror Festival, Pleasance

Reviewer: Jamie Barnes

Writer: Nic Lamont

Director: Adam Rhys-Davies

Mary Shelley is the mother of the science-fiction genre, and now punk-rock prodigy in Nic Lamont’s reimagining, which seizes Lord Byron’s famous label; mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Witty and anarchic, this self-referential one-woman show delivers a frantically poetic biography of the years before and beyond the publication of Frankenstein, as part of the 2021 London Horror Festival.

Accompanied by a variety of popular rock songs, Lamont’s angsty performance as Shelley exercises a combination of found audio, monologues, visual paraphernalia and character impersonations, all of which blend seamlessly into a genuine, funny, and delightfully vulgar retelling of the feminist icon. Providing the story from Shelley’s point of view, Lamont also manages to contribute a fresh insight into the creation of the art and horror Shelley is best known for, not only touching on the comedic absurdity of her life, but also on the trauma she suffered through the loss of her husband and children. Lamont also refuses to shy away from the long-disputed theories about Shelley’s sexuality and relationships, and addresses the hypocrisy around the celebration of Byron’s apparent bisexuality.

The show’s dialogue is written as if between two time periods, with the more emotional scenes still firmly rooted in the 19th century, compared to the more modern, ideological scenes, which pick up the postmodern, deconstructive features of the performance. However, the transition between the two extremes is well-navigated, making use of the comedic and musical elements, and the show proves itself to be able to co-exist between contrasting form and genre.

Sporting bright pink lighting and set design by Benjy Adams, the show lays down its feminist spirit from the first beat, sustaining the unapologetic freedom of womanhood that Shelley explored through her moderate success as a writer. In addition, Adam Rhys-Davies’ expressive staging aids the tone of the show, and when combined with Lamont’s fervent performance, creates a highly engaging and clever depiction of the life of the science fiction pioneer, Mary Shelley.

Runs until 27 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Funny, frantic, and full of life

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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