Helen Edmundson's Mary Shelley is a play that explores the extraordinary life of the author of Frankenstein. It was first performed in a co-production between Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, on 16 March 2012.
The play centres on a crucial episode in Mary's early life. Her parents, radical feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and political philosopher William Godwin, are struggling under the weight of heavy debts. When young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley becomes a regular visitor to the house, his financial stability and dangerous charisma charms the family, especially Godwin’s three young daughters. But it is feisty young Mary who becomes the object of his affections. The play details their scandalous elopement when Mary was just sixteen and the impact it has upon her stepmother, her sisters and above all, her troubled father. Three years after this life-changing event, Mary would write one of the greatest novels in the English language, Frankenstein, which changed the literary landscape forever.
The Shared Experience production was directed by Polly Teale and designed by Naomi Dawson. The cast was Kristin Atherton, Flora Nicholson, Sadie Shimmin, Shannon Tarbet, William Chubb and Ben Lamb. It subsequently toured to Nottingham Playhouse; Liverpool Playhouse; Hull Truck Theatre; Northern Stage, Newcastle; Oxford Playhouse; Winchester Theatre Royal and the Tricycle Theatre, London.