Mary Shelley’s visit to Dundee in 1812, has always fascinated me. The author of Frankenstein, cited her time in the city as one of the inspirations behind her masterpiece and I’ve always wondered what exactly it was about Dundee and the Silvery Tay, that influenced her. So, when I heard that Monstrous Bodies, a play written and directed by Sandy Thomson of Poor Boy, was coming to Dundee Rep, I just knew I had to see it.
But the play is much more than just a biographical account of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s (Shelley’s maiden name) visit to Dundee. The 14 year olds story of living with the Baxter family, is told alongside modern day teenager Roxanne Walker’s, tale of woe. While Mary struggles to be taken seriously as a woman and a writer, Roxanne faces the humiliation of her classmates seeing her topless, after a boy she knows takes a photograph of her drunk at a party and shares it around the school.
The two storylines connect as Roxanne tries to build up the courage to face her peers again and deliver a talk on her idol, Mary Shelley. But that isn’t all they have in common. Both characters want to be treated as equals – but sadly respect for young women is hard to find in both 1812 and 2017. So sometimes you have to write your own story…
Monstrous Bodies was utterly captivating and inspiring to watch. Once again, the Dundee Ensemble cast were amazing with stand-out performances from Rebekah Lumsden as Roxanne, Eilidh McCormick as Mary, Elaine Stirrat as Liberty and Lorna Gold as Grissel. The play was supported by a host of young dancers who really brought the play to life and made the whole production vibrant and exciting to watch.
The stellar young cast, the realistic dialogue and the fact that audience members were invited to take images and videos at key points in the performance, makes this play current and attractive to young audiences as well as old.
I left the play feeling empowered with Mary Shelley’s words echoing around inside my head. “Beware: For I am fearless, and therefor powerful.”
What a message to be sending out to young women today.
Monstrous Bodies (Chasing Mary Shelley down Peep O’ Day Lane), is on at the Dundee Rep until Saturday the 6th of May.
For further information and to book tickets, visit: www.dundeerep.co.uk
*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of the Monstrous Bodies in exchange for this fair and honest review.