A production of Liz Lochhead’s Blood and Ice comes this week, detailing the life story of Mary Shelley (the writer of Frankenstein)– from her marriage with Percy B. Shelley, her relationship with her step sister Claire, as well as her dealings with the tediously, arrogant Lord Byron, to the hauntings of her “modern Prometheus” in her old age as a widow. Director Matthew Beswick chose this play to be his solo debut in his position, as he wanted to find something that he is passionate about and was able to deliver his vision onto the stage excellently.
When I studied Frankenstein as a student here, I mistook the fact myself that the name Frankenstein is not of the monster, but rather the creator. The monster, referred to as Frankenstein’s Monster, I learned, was created from a dream in both the character Victor Frankenstein, as well as Mary Shelley’s own inspiration for her horror story in her friendly competition with her companions during the Shelley’s trip to Geneva. Not only was the Creature in this play a figure created in fear and doubt, it and many of the characters reflected humanity in it’s deepest desires of, ultimately, discovering one’s identity in the universal argument between what’s good and what’s evil.
The story was interesting, as Beswick was given creative freedom in adapting the play to his own vision, due to it’s lesser known status. This play gives way to divulge into Mary Shelley’s life, her own character before and after writing Frankenstein, and how it affected her later on.
The actors were very commanding and engaging as they owned the little stage, particularly the actor playing Lord Byron and the actress playing Young Mary Shelley, as their actions echoed in the small theatre of 97 seats occupied by the very few invited to it’s preview night. I compliment the actors in their talent and diversity, as these shows are usually made to be ready in three months and they lack no shortage in their ability to put on a good show at this local theatre.
The Progress Theatre, just a little off Christchurch Road, is running it’s 72nd season this year and after 18 months of preparation, and has set dates for various shows coming in till 2020. I’ve been studying here for three years and this was my first time watching a play at the theatre, their productions, I can honestly say, are definitely worth watching.
Shows at the Progress Theatre don’t usually last longer than a week, so get your tickets now! Blood and Ice premieres from January 7-12, 2019