by Helen Edmundson.Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse in association with Oxford playhouse

Nottingham Playhouse To 5 May 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm no performance 30 April.
Mat 28 April 2.30pm 3 May 1.30pm.
Audio-described 28 April 2.30pm, 2 May.
BSL Signed 4 May.
Captioned 3 May 7.45pm.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.

then tour to 7 July 2012.
Runs 2hr 45min. One interval.
Review: Jen Mitchell 19 April.

Shared Experience bring Mary Shelley’s story to life in a vivid and exciting production.
As the daughter of William Godwin, the radical political philosopher and Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist philosopher, Mary Shelley’s life would be fascinating anyway, without her authorship of Frankenstein. When you consider she wrote, at just eighteen, one of the most radical novels of the time, it becomes remarkable.

Helen Edmundson’s new play, toured by shared Experience, is beautifully written and well-observed, with excellent direction and acting. It is as if we have stepped into the haphazard lives of the six characters, each so well-drawn that they all arouse sympathy, antagonism, admiration and annoyance at various times.

William Chubb shows William Godwin, the radical who has had to (or chosen to) compromise his early ideals as the reality of life takes its toll. His calm, intellectual stance in the face of the turbulent emotions from the four women with whom he lives is rocked increasingly as he deals with debt, children, conformity and death. Mrs Godwin, superbly portrayed by Sadie Shimmin, is cast as the villain of the piece by her daughters, yet is the realistic one who strives hardest to keep the family together; at once, practical, hard-working, scolding – and very funny.

All three daughters are utterly different and excellently acted; the long-suffering Fanny (Flora Nicholson) who endures most, Jane, later Clair (Shannon Tarbet), the flighty, self-centred and amusing younger sister, and Mary herself (Kristin Atherton) – the strong-willed and radical young person who is inspired by both her mother and father. Her grief at the early death of a first child is palpable, as is her confusion with her father’s apparent desire for conformity where her own future is concerned and her feelings of loss that stay following their estrangement.

Ben Lamb’s Shelley is everything it might supposed to be – dashing, enthused with radical ideas for change, seductive – it is easy to see how all the sisters fall for him. Then suddenly we dislike his selfish and egocentric view of the world, his oblivion to the hurt and pain of others.

The whole piece, at two and a half hours, left me wanting more, a production that deserves success.

Mary: Kristin Atherton.
William Godwin: William Chubb.
Percy Bysshe Shelley: Ben Lamb.
Fanny Godwin: Flora Nicholson.
Mrs Godwin: Sadie Shimmin.
Jane Clairmont: Shannon Tarbet.

Director: Polly Teale.
Designer: Naomi Dawson.
Composer: Keith Clouston.
Movement Director: Liz Ranken.
.Lighting Designer: Chris Davey.

2012-04-22 02:47:31

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