By Ros Billingsley.
Mary, aged 17/18. Elegant, dainty and intelligent.
Percy, Bysshe Shelley, 22/23, a sensitive poet, slim, intellectual, with an oval face.
Claire, 17, winsome, sexy, curvaceous, and extrovert.
Hogg, 23, a prominent Roman nose, a handsome scholar with dark hair.
Lord Byron, 28, sensuous and arrogant, has a clubfoot, limps but tries to hide it.
Victor Frankenstein, 22 to 35.
Polidori, 25/35, Half Italian half English, proud, kind, imaginative, of medium build.
Angel: Suave charm, lofty, but capable of brooding, cunning evil.
Man and Woman: A rough couple of creditors.
Wollstonecraft Godwin’s own life is as exciting as her thrilling story,
Born in 1797 she eloped at sixteen with the already married poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to travel on the continent. They were avidly interested in literature, science and politics.
This play explores how the horrors Mary suffered in her life may be linked to her famous story.
written by Ros Billingsley.
The houselights dim, stage area warmly lit.
Before the curtain (or off stage, if there is no curtain) Claire and Lord Byron are heard, excited and laughing.
Claire: Oh, what an exhilarating,
prancing, marvelous, elegance!
Six horses all a’gallop! A magnificence of power and distinction!
Your equipage is regal, entirely too . . . too ravishing!
A Spartan you flailed the whip over them. Formidable, my Lord! Glorious!
Byron: So, you enjoyed the ride, Miss Claire?
Claire: Oh vastly, my Lord, and gloriously!
Bron: My chariot is a replica of Napoleon’s campaign wagon.
Claire: And your arm is all sinew, Sir, and I would accept a kiss from the Zeus of charioteers!
Byron: Indeed, would you?
Claire: Yet, tally-ho! You must
first chase and catch me for it!
Be quick, my Lord, because my sister and Percy will return home soon.
They chase around the furniture. She escapes him.
Byron: But, no, I must respect your tender years.
Claire: Oh no, Sir, please do not. I
am out upon the world.
I have recently been abroad to visit Paris, no less.
They chase again, he vaulting over furniture, they laugh, and she escapes again.
Ha-ha, it is pace and cunning that you lack now.
After another chase he catches her, holds her and threatens a kiss, but holds back.
Byron: Ah, but your sister will take me for a bounder and a cad.
Claire: My sister, pouf! Why should she kennel me? I follow her example. Mary is my pattern.
Byron: Your cut is more impish.
Claire: She reads a lot. It makes her appear dull.
Byron: She has not your upturned nose; these tempting buds of lips.
Claire: These trifling features are uniquely mine. I was my Mama’s daughter before she ever married Mary’s Papa. We grew up as sisters, but we share no blood.
Byron: And does the Reverend Godwin, if you still call him Reverend, approve of the liberties taken by his daughters?
Claire: My stepfather, the Reverend? Papa, I call him, he is a peevish old grouch who writes like a mole in his hole all day. He sees me not!
Apart from that he deplores public hangings, the rotten state of prisons, the transportation of convicts to Australia.
Byron: Then you think I can safely taste these pretty lips?
Claire’s speech is broken as she counters Byron’s wandering hands.
Claire: I must tell you that he was very glad . . . when my Mama . . . wed him,
He undoes some buttons of her blouse.
And came to . . . to care
his family, being young then, and he . . .
No, no, my Lord! Now I protest! You are too bold!
Byron: I am too provoked. I should not stay.
He detaches himself from Claire.
Claire: But yet, do not rush away, my Lord. Already I forgive you!
Byron: I must ensure my coachman walks the horses as they cool down.
Claire: I think he is well practiced in that art after all your racing about.
Byron: Cooling off is a fine art when one becomes overheated.
Claire: Should I come to watch how it is done?
Byron: No, thank you, I shall return very soon.
we hear the sound of raised anxious voices outside.
Claire is uneasy, goes to peer out of a front window, buttoning her blouse and roughly tidying her hair.
Mary and Percy enter in outdoor clothes, dishevelled and panting.
Mary: Claire, my darling, we are in such fright! Percy has been shot at! Shot at Twice!
Claire: Percy, are you injured?
Percy: No, they missed their mark both times.
Claire: Who shot! And why? Did they really mean to kill you?
Mary: We did not see who shot. I was
giving out the tracts we had devised.
My Elf had spoken well. With such passion and heartfelt warmth.
It was a triumph — there was applause. He stepped down from the rostrum and then the shots rang out!
Claire: Come sit down. This is very terrible! You are both as shaken as a leaf, but no lasting hurt! We should celebrate that.
Percy sags onto the couch. Mary sits comforting him.
You were reciting your poem?
Men of England, wherefore
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?
Forge arms in your defence to bear.
Mary: That was the theme, but Percy did not speak in verse, of course.
Claire: He goaded the people to take up arms against their masters?
Wherefore feed and clothe
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat — nay, drink your blood?”
Mary: Stop it, Claire! Bang, bang, came the shots! So sudden! So loud!
Byron: Most squires must ache to use you for target practice. It is perhaps surprising that only two shots were fired, and both with such bad aim.
Mary: Oh, who are you?
Claire: Oh, my word. In all the turmoil I have not told you — let me introduce Lord Byron. He called to see you, and you were out, so he took me riding in his chariot. He has waited all day for you.
Percy: Good day to you, Lord Byron, Sir.
Byron: (to Mary) I am ever your servant, Sir, M’am. Did you take me for a gunman?
Mary: Certainly not, my Lord! They say that a ruffian fired the shots.
Byron: Then surely, as you are Percy Shelley, heir to a Baronetcy, some simpleton believes that you mock him.
Mary: That cannot be. He spoke so sincerely; no one could mistake him.
Claire: So? Perhaps it was a secret agent of the government in disguise. Percy’s father sits in parliament. It is a plot to silence the young rip!
Percy: That may well be so. The justice informs me that I will be charged with sedition if they catch me disturbing the peace again.
My Lord, you are most welcome in our home. Have you come about anything in particular?
Claire: Ah, my Lord Byron may be one of the tyrannical oppressive Lords, perhaps?
We should not blame him for it. My Lord’s baronetcy was thrust upon him at the age of nine years old. (to B) You may hate Percy’s campaign.
Mary: And you so pink, sister; and your dress so disturbed, you should take care! He is a notorious rake!
Claire: Pouf, Mary! Was it me who was just shot at? No, not me! Am I the Miss in a delicate condition with no ring on my finger? No, I am not!
Mary: ( to B) Percy and I are not married, my Lord, though we live as man and wife.
Claire: And we are all a flutter, my Lord, because Percy has been shot at!
Percy: It’s not so trifling to be shot at! Shot at twice! It is far from trifling!
Percy sinks into the couch an arm flung across his brow.
But I have no complaint; I am all bliss. I spoke as my heart obliged me.
Claire: The justice will charge Percy with sedition if he speaks out again.
Byron: He is a poet so he must speak out! It is what we poets do. And in these present times, plain folk would not know their way, unless we tell them.
Percy: Thank you, my Lord. I am entirely beside you there. I believe that poets are now the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Byron: Sir, we are the coachmen and the hangman of today!
Claire: And I have just now been dashing along
his marvellous coach, splashing everyone with mud, and yet they cheered
sped by! I sincerely hope, dear Mary,
that they will get word of this at home.
Such a spectacle we were!
Then ruffians sprang out in an ambush, and whoosh, whack, my Lord beat them off with his whip! Did you not, Sir?
Such a warrior is my Lord Byron. Such a warrior!
Percy: I am glad to have you here, my Lord, most especially for your fighting prowess. We may have need of it.
Byron bows to them.
Hogg knocks at the door.
Now who is at our door?
Byron: Does no servant to tend your door?
Mary: Our maid left us this morning, my Lord, with hardly any notice.
Byron: It may be a summons for your arrest?
Claire: Or a man with a gun, come to shoot us all.
Mary: Most likely it is the bailiffs come to take away the furniture.
Percy opens the door to Hogg
Percy: Hogg, my good friend! A true
It is a brave man who dares to call upon us.
Hogg: Good-evening to you all. A very merry evening it is, I see!
Mary: Thomas Jefferson Hogg, welcome.
Percy: Do you know Lord Byron?
Hogg: I know him by reputation. I am surprised to find you here, my Lord.
Byron: Are you so, Mr Hogg. And why is that?
Hogg: The word in London is that you are barred from genteel society.
Byron: I am indeed spurned by polite society — which is why you find me here.
Percy: — this being impolite society?
Byron: This being the epitome of enlightened company.
Hogg: My Lord Byron, we are of a mind then.
Claire: So caring no fig for politeness, so throw off your clothes, Mr Hogg. We have no maid to take your hat, so toss it where you will, and join our revelry.
Hogg: I came to learn of your adventures in France, but as you are entertaining the Baron, I should call another day.
Byron: I beg you stay. I am curious to
hear; how is France now?
Since Napoleon and the revolution I believe they are a sundry rabble.
Did you see the guillotine?
Percy: We did. It stood twenty feet tall, a monstrous contraption, not now in use.
Claire: It slew sixteen hundred aristocrats. And decapitated them so fast that life remained in the heads for moments after they were severed.
Hogg: A cruel atrocity. And Mary? You look pale. Are you well?
Claire: Mary is always pale, Thomas. Do not interrupt our tale. We are telling you of the wonders of France.
Mary: I am pale because Percy was shot at today.
Hogg: Indeed, my friend, are you in trouble again?
Percy: Only a trifle, my friend. Please continue about our exploits in France.
Claire: I will. It was all
We started on foot, walking along the highway with a donkey to carry our bags, for economy’s sake.
Percy: My father has stopped paying my allowance.
Byron: You eloped, Sir, with two girls, a donkey and no money?
Mary: Yes, until the donkey became lame and we exchanged him for an ass.
Claire: Then Percy pawned his watch and we hired a cottage over there.
Percy: A dreadful hovel, with a chimney that would not draw and rooms that filled with smoke until we were almost asphyxiated.
Claire: And when our last possessions were sold, we had to come home, crowded in beside peasants, wet and cold most of the time, with Mary sick most mornings, quite dreadfully.
Percy: The worst of it was arriving back in London to find that my wife had cleaned out my bank account! And nobody would open their door to us.
Claire: Percy had advised the bank to let
withdraw what she needed.
She had taken all and more!
Hogg: You left Harriet with your infant son, and with a baby yet unborn, and ran away with Mary, who I can but observe, is now also large with child. Of course, man, your money is all gone.
Percy: I had set store by Harriet’s natural honesty, to take only as of necessity.
Hogg: I can see who was the donkey, or should I say, the ass!
Byron: Your disposition and outlook, dear Mr Shelley, do amaze me.
Claire: We had to beg Harriet for the price of a night at an Inn.
Hogg: Did she give it to you?
Mary: She did, with a very haughty
And then Percy’s Uncle leased this cottage for us. And so in the end, as you see, it was the happiest of escapades.
Byron: All was made noble and pure by Percy’s poetry, no doubt.
Claire: Percy did read a good deal of poetry to us.
Mary: Very beautiful poetry.
Live: There are several very loud Bangs and thuds at their Door.
Percy: Who is this now?
A rough looking man and woman burst in right.
The male intruder picks up a book, saying, ‘filth’. He throws it to the floor. The woman picks up Mary’s baby quilt. The woman spits into the quilt, throws it down and crushes it under her shoe. They grunt and groan ‘yerr’ ,’ yah’, ‘gerr’.
Byron grabs the man by the back of his jacket:
Byron: Hold back you scoundrel!
Hogg: Hands off you filthy rascal! Set that down!
Byron subdues the man and holds him by his lapels. Hogg holds the woman by the back of her coat.
Byron: Now what have you to say for yourself, my man?
Man: I say ‘tis a den of degradation, iniquity, an vermin! Arrogance and impertinence! (H)‘im ‘ere preachin’ ‘is sermon, ‘im with two women, no weddin’ ring and them girls mere babies. Where’s yer own morality, I asks yer?
Mary: I am seventeen, my sister sixteen; this is our home. I ask you to get out.
Byron: Are you the fellow with the gun?
Woman: No ‘e ain’t! An shootin’ would be too good fer yer! Yer spawn of satan!
Byron: Then you are the fox who has followed the
hunter home. I shall give you count of
three to be gone. Then I will pursue
you and hunt you down!
How will you like that!
One! Two! And three!
Byron throws the man out. Hogg expels the woman.
(to Percy) Will you accompany me, Sir, in a chase to make sport of them?
Percy: Let them go. They are rebuked enough.
Byron: Shall conscience make dullards of us? May we not sometimes act on the manly impulse that nature affords us.
Percy: I have no appetite for that chase.
Byron: Then if you show me where to go, I will wash my hands of the stinking vermin.
Percy: My Lord, Sir, we shall find the jug and basin.
Claire: And I will bring you a clean towel, my Lord.
Exit Claire, Byron and Percy.
Hogg: Come Mary, sit down; you have a great deal to endure.
Mary: Hogg dear, please explain to me why Lord Byron is celebrated in the papers for his recent published verse, yet is now unwelcome in society.
Hogg: It is all about town that he has left his wife and is now taking his own sister to bed. Presumably on those nights that he is not here. (points upstairs)
Mary: I should warn Claire. She is
very bold, but this news may stop her.
I see my sister as my responsibility and Percy becomes anxious for her too, though he never sends her home. I must go to her!
Hogg: Mary. Just one moment, Mary, would you hear me? While I have you to myself, I must ask you . . .
Will you please sit down again?
She sits perched.
Mary: Yes? But hurry a little.
Hogg: May I ask you, Mary? May I ask you . .?
Mary: Of course? What is it?
Hogg: Mary, events show us that your life in this house demeans and endangers you. You have been incautious but there is no need for you to stay here.
Mary: Worry for me not, dear Hogg. I entirely approve of Percy’s cause.
Hogg: But, you have not the status of a married
woman to support you.
I ask you to consider; do you think you could grow to love me? I mean do you care for me at all? The fact is that I admire you beyond all reason.
She gets up and moves downstage. He follows
Mary: You are the kindest, best friend we have!
Hogg: (he kneels) If it should please you, my Mary, I would offer you my hand in marriage.
Mary: Get up Thomas Hogg! Percy will return and whatever will he think?
Hogg: He is aware of my devotion to you. He has advised me to tell you of it.
Mary: Hogg, please believe that I love Percy right down to the tiniest gleam in his eye. My heart and soul are his and I await with joy the birth of our baby.
Hogg: (Gets up) I can offer you a most respectable and genteel life. My prospects in the law are sound, and together we might undo your father’s disapproval. I hear that he has closed his door to you.
Mary: Papa shut the door to us and pulled down the shade on his window too.
Hogg: With me he has no quarrel and if you were to have me . . .
Mary: Dear Hogg, I love Percy.
Hogg: It sounds most illogical, but Percy swears that he will happily share you.
Mary: I can believe it of him. His generosity is very shocking.
Hogg: He has two children by his wife.
Mary: Percy was only nineteen and she sixteen when they were wed. She is practically illiterate, has no conversation, and her parents own a tearoom.
Hogg: That young lady had a sympathetic ear for all of us undergraduates.
Mary: She is eighteen now with constant demands for fashionable hats and gowns. Besides she has of late become very cool towards Percy. And I would prefer not to talk about her!
Hogg: Percy is cut off by his father, and you by yours. Writing verse does not bring in a living wage. I cannot but observe that your home is built on sand.
Mary: Percy’s love for me is such that he borrowed against his inheritance to pay off my father’s debt. And more; the creditor insisted he must have a legitimate heir to sue if Percy dies before the debt is repaid. He considered that Percy wed too young the first time. Percy then wed Harriet a second time, although he was so out of love with her that every fibre in him resisted it.
Hogg: The creditor was a wise man. Percy is not familiar with penury, whereas your father has always been in urgent need of funds to maintain his dignity.
Mary: It is true. My Papa sees Percy as a liberal benefactor.
Hogg: And if Percy had died today, where would you be now?
Mary: I cannot consider that. Do not tease me any more.
Are we still friends?
Hogg: Of course.
Mary: Thank you, Mr Thomas Hogg
Hogg: Have you finished with Lord Byron?
Claire: He asks for a fresh cravat.
Percy is supplying him with one.
And Mary — Cook asks for a word with you. I expect it is about our dinner.
Mary: I will go to her.
Claire: Kind Sir, may I sit on your lap and tease you, Thomas?
Hogg: No, I must get the circulation back into my legs.
Claire Then tell me, I long to know why were you and Percy, you naughty boys, expelled from the University College, Oxford?
Hogg: We exposed absurdities in biblical doctrines that the authorities consistently have overlooked.
Claire: And Percy published a pamphlet, ‘The Necessity of Atheism’! And you stood by him and would not dub him in; and so you were expelled too; and he will always love you for your stalwart friendship.
And then Percy posed as ‘The Very Reverend Percy Shelley’ in his letters? And when replies came to the college addressed to the Very Reverend Percy, they wondered whom they were for and were aghast at his boldness.
Hogg: That was to persuade the worthy Wedgwood, to show us his orthiograph.
Claire: His what?
Hogg: A mechanical device to convert letters, numbers and musical intervals into a notation system to reveal the ‘Universal language’ used by people before the time of Babel.
Claire: Hogg wash! That’s what that is, all scientific Hogg wash!
Hogg: His carboned paper is effective, by we transferred images by pressure and no ink. I could show you letters copied by it.
Claire: I am sure your letters will all become very famous in a while.
Enter Mary looking worried.
Mary: I am ashamed to tell you that there will be no dinner this evening!
Claire: No dinner?
Mary: Cook has packed her bags and
Even without a reference. She told me to my face that my recommendation would, ‘scupper her worse than useless’.
And we have yet more strangers outside, spying on us.
Claire: I believe they are sent by
my Mama or by
Harriet to bring us into line.
Do you know that my Mama followed us to France to beg me to return home?
But I would not go with her!
these ugly people outside look very angry.
We should call LB. Lord Byron is such a warrior! He will chase them away.
Enter Byron (dressed in white shirt and cravat.)
Byron: LB is here. He is dressed; he is hungry, and ready for his dinner.
Claire: My Lord, there will be no dinner this evening. The cook has left us.
Byron: Has the cook taken my lobster?
Mary: Your gift is here, my Lord, but not prepared.
Byron: Where is Percy?
Mary: He has gone to bed with a headache.
His is very unsettled since he was shot at.
Byron: Then I should not trouble you with my presence while all is awry. Have my man bring my coach to the door if you will.
Mary: My Lord, I have no servant to send to the stables to instruct your man.
Byron: Then I must walk around to the
myself, to fetch it.
Will you please convey my sincere respects to Mr Shelley.
Claire: Oh very fine! What a dignity of manner he assumes!
Mary: Oh, oh, suddenly I have such pain. I think it is the baby coming.
Claire: No, Mary. It is only six months. It cannot be! Try to take hold of yourself!
Mary: No, no I really cannot. I have such pain.
In the very brief blackout, Claire helps Mary’s remove her ‘pregnant’ cushion.
SFX2: SAD Music
Light comes up, cold and grey.
Mary paces, hugging a pillow. She has lost her first baby but is pregnant again.
Claire sits on the couch.
Mary: Last night I dreamed again that our
girl came back to us.
We warmed her body beside the fire and rubbed her and she lived again. But when I woke the cot was cold and empty.
Claire: That same dream again and yet so many months have passed.
Mary: Little girl, my darling, so delicate, so sweet, how I miss my little Sweetheart.
Claire: You have another baby coming in a very few months. Put down the pillow.
He has two letters and a newspaper. He holds his own letter already open.
Percy: Splendid news. Thomas Hogg is coming back to us. He will arrive within the week.
Mary: I am too low in spirits to receive Hogg presently.
Percy: He will be a comfort to us.
No plan need be made, no ceremony offered,
just let him come and find us as we are.
I am sure you would not have me send Thomas to an Inn.
Mary: I will not have him here. Not while you are so often away in London hiding from our creditors.
Percy: We speak of Thomas Hogg. Hogg, he understands the city and the law. He may help me to secure a loan, or some response from my publisher.
Claire: Sir, set Hogg aside for a moment. Have you a letter from Lord Byron?
Percy: Only from Hogg, and I am at a loss to understand . . .
Mary: And I am at a loss to comprehend — your lack of understanding.
Percy: Then as you will not have Hogg here. I must call on him in London.
Claire: Oh, Sir, then will you please make it your business to remind LB of his affection for me.
Mary: You have only just returned from gallivanting around London with LB.
Claire: Yes, Mary, but now I am in need of him most particularly.
Mary: Are you . . .? Claire, we have troubles enough!
Claire sits next to Mary.
Claire: I am just unsettled, nothing is certain. — Your letter, is it from Fanny?
Mary is looking at her letter.
Mary: Poor Fanny is desolate! Papa has told her that she is not his natural child; that my Mother conceived her with a soldier before she wed Papa. Papa gave Fanny his name as a kindness.
Claire: That is a shock. The good, quiet sister who stays at home, the sister who has been more loyal to Papa than any of us; Fanny is now disowned.
Mary: She adds that creditors once come to
threaten Papa each day.
She urges us to invite her to run away from home and join us in our bliss.
Claire: She is too diligent. She will stay at home. Mama and Papa need her. She will stay to keep house, and they will never spare a breath to thank her.
Mary: Poor Fanny, how she must miss us. I must reply to her at once.
Claire: Write small; Mama complains of the postage of a double letter.
Percy has now picked up a newspaper.
Percy: John Coleridge, one of my prefects from Eton, says under the heading, 'Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Revolt of Islam.'
“Mr Shelley would abrogate our laws . . . he would abolish the rights of property . . . overthrow the constitution . . .pull down our Churches, level our establishments . . . burn our bibles . . . marriage he cannot endure . . . have us remove our faith in religion.” In his opinion I am a depraved danger to decent society!
He throws the paper onto the couch. Claire takes it up.
Claire: At least he reads your work. — But just look here! (waving the paper) We read that Lord Byron will be travelling to Switzerland, to enjoy a vista of the Swiss Alps, and the lovely limpid lake Geneva.
Claire takes Percy’s arm.
remember how stimulating you found LB’s company!
And I am sure that Mary’s health would benefit from bracing Swiss Alpine air.
Mary: I dare not travel again until my new baby is safely born.
Percy: At this time I do not have the funds for a venture to Switzerland.
Lights start to dim.
Claire: But with Lord Byron over there offering
and the winter here the worst in centuries! With the mountainous Alps, agog to be explored in verse, we must prepare for Switzerland!
SFX3: music for Swiss Alps
Mary, no longer pregnant talks to Polidori, downstage looking across the audience.
Poli: The Swiss Alps inspire awe and the lake is a vision. Do you agree, Mary?
Mary: For the first few days I did, but now
cold majesty disturbs me.
Forgive me I am in low spirits. Doctor, have you any cure for me.
Poli: My doctorate was a study of sleepwalking and nightmares.
Mary: Ah, then you must help me. I constantly have a disturbing dream.
I dream that
the little girl I lost is alive again. Then I wake filled with sadness,
great anxiety for my new baby son!
When I walk outside anxiety follows and fills my day.
Poli: I sense that there is more besides the little girl’s death that troubles you.
Mary: That is true. I also grieve because
my Papa is so unjust. Percy promoted Papa’s own teachings, was
shot at for it, and then Papa forsook us!
Even the death of my little girl and the birth of my son have not touched Papa.
Poli: The scholar, Percy, reached beyond his teacher’s limits, perhaps?
Mary: I know it, and I even understand him; but
what of me?
I am privileged to live amongst the most notable of scholars. But I cannot now find my ease in that. I disappoint Percy because I am not as happy as I once was. I cry over everything and constantly feel the need to prove my worth.
Poli: You add an equal share of intellect and more than a share of charming beauty to our gatherings.
Mary: Thank you. But at least tell me how I can change my dream?
Poli: Could you perhaps imagine that the little girl you lost is now free to fly across those mountains with the angels?
Mary: Doctor Polidori? You surprise me. Do you, a serious man of science, talk of Angels?! Can you attend Lord Byron and yet believe in Angels?
Poli: I find great comfort in angels.
Mary: I was taught to seek reality. My father is known for his scorn of the old myths. He would school us in logic and good sense.
Poli: I would teach him that logic in itself is not a cure. And alone it cannot explain all our earthly experiences.
Mary: Maybe I should borrow one of your angels from time to time.
Poli: I will give you one if you take great care of him.
Mary: Of him?
Poli: Or of her, if you prefer.
Mary: No, I love him already. I will
not change my angel!
They are coming back. We must be found talking of the beauty of the Alps.
Polidori shows her an article by Galvani in a journal
Poli: Or this article of science. Here Mr Galvani has dissected a frog and kept part of it twitching in a jar by jolting it with volts of electricity.
Mary: How very shocking!
Enter Byron, Percy and Claire. She is now five months pregnant.
Mary moves downstage right. Dr Polidori moves left stage.
Percy: Mary, do I find you laughing!
Byron: My physician excels himself. How is it done?
Mary: By this article of science.
Claire: So Mr Galvani has sparked you into laughter?
Byron: He has galvanized you into laughter!
Poli: Galvanized indeed! Indeed, Sir!
Byron: Which brings me to my plan to rid Mary of
We shall each compete to write a most bloodcurdling tale of horror.
This will purge any and all miseries most excellently.
Mary: You suppose that writing of horror would ease my mind, my Lord?
Byron: Mary, daughter of William Godwin,
profound, persuasive pen, and of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, now no
advancing the rights of women in male dominated heaven? It is
time for you to seize your birthright!
In writing you must excel.
Claire goes to Percy and takes him downstage for a quiet word with him.
Light on Percy and Claire
Mary: I should go rather to see how our Willmouse sleeps.
Percy: Elise is with him. She tends him well. Stay with us this evening.
Byron: Dare you not accept my challenge? Will you quaff of the amber nectar?
Byron quaffs from a hip flask and offers it round. (Mary sips it, Percy doesn’t drink.)
Come muses of the literate and inventive arts; set our creative juices running wild! We will dig within us for a foul satanic spark!
I give you the
And as Robert Merry puts it:
Fill high the
And let the electric ruby pass
From hand to hand, from soul to soul:
Who shall the energy control
Exalted, pure, refined,
The Health of Human kind!
Percy: Poetry would suit my pen best.
Byron: Rude prose it must be, from all of us.
Mary moves downstage. Claire goes to join her. They talk intimately.
Mary: Claire, will you write?
Claire: No. His Lordship only wants to scorn us and then show us how it should be done.
Mary: Did you mind him of his obligation to you?
Claire: I did.
And he cares nothing for me.
I told him that I was a virgin when he carried me off.
Mary: I believe you were so.
Claire: He replied that he was the one carried off, and that nobody has been more ravished since the Trojan War, that he has always been a martyr to women, that his whole life has been sacrificed to them and by them.
And, stupidly Mary, I had once told him that I conceived a child with Percy, a child that was aborted on Percy’s account. He cannot forget that!
Mary: Claire? Why on earth did you invent such nonsense?
Claire: His Lordship mocked me for my youth and innocence. That is why I said it!
Percy. I snatch at a wealthier poet.
Do not look at me that way.
Mary: Percy is tender and caring, quite unlike LB with his willful worldly ways.
Claire: I have seen Percy gazing soulfully at other women.
Mary: He must gather inspiration for his poetry. That is all.
Claire: You mean that Percy’s lust is loftier than LB’s.
They step upstage and the men stroll downstage speaking.
Poli: Mr Shelley, I know that his Lordship has a fear of leaches. Perhaps that will provide a story for your pen, Sir.
Byron: I harbour no leeches, but Mr
Percy Shelley, he gathers them.
He is a prize stallion denied the enjoyment of its prime by the horseflies that feed upon its flesh.
Percy: Do you insult my loves and my friends, Sir?
Byron: I remark only that you are a very worthy young gentleman who would deny himself to keep any sad tramp happy.
The men recede and again the girls approach downstage.
Claire: He is so rude! He is an arrogant, hateful viper!
Mary: Just tell me, will he recognize your child?
Claire: He agreed to make himself responsible for my baby on one condition.
Claire sobs on Mary’s chest. Mary puts an arm round Claire.
That at its birth I pass the child to him and vanish entirely from its life.
Mary: But you will always be the child’s mother!
Claire: He says that is a brutal truth
that bores and disgusts him.
He is a devil! And he has a cloven hoof to prove it!
He cares nothing for his child.
Mary: It is as I expected.
Claire: But Mary, he may yet relent! Tomorrow he may feel entirely differently.
SFX4: The door wails and squeaks on its hinges.
Polidori brings the men back downstage.
Poli: See here is a horror. I spy a woman’s skull peering through the keyhole.
Percy: Come, join us Mary. Where have you gone?
SFX: the window rattles.
Poli: It is risen from the grave, it enters by the window, a Vampire, with the soul of an evil Lord. It comes at midnight to feast on blood and infect new victims.
Claire: Oooh, it chills me through. My spine is melted!
Percy: Write it down, Doctor. I believe you have struck gold in that story.
Byron: Indeed, my own tale shall take up the theme of the vampire.
Byron drinks from his flask and shows it now empty.
Our elixir is exhausted. We must return to the Villa Diodati for supplies.
Will you all stroll back with us?
Byron with his dark cloak acts as a vampire and chases them.
Or will the black forms of vampires appear too vivid in the moonlight? Ah-ha! Ah-ha! Ah-ha!
Percy retaliates with a furled umbrella
Percy: Aye! Yah! Cha! You fool!
Claire: (scream) Keep him from me, please do, Sir!
Mary: Go away and take Percy with you. I shall think more clearly on my own.
Percy: You will write something? It would be discourteous not to try.
Mary: I accept the challenge and I shall do my best, I promise you!
Will you go with them, Claire?
Claire: I will stay here with you.
After bows and kisses for Mary, the men exit.
he will speak to Lord Byron for me. I now hate
Switzerland and its peaks and lakes. I
wish we would return home to England.
I am going to bed.
Light fades, except for a spot on Mary. The Alps are in blackness.
Mary moves downstage. She looks out over the audience to the Alps.
Mary: Percy has gone to Lord Byron’s home and
Claire to bed.
Outside is bitter cold. The mountains loom dark and eerie in the moonlight.
I am commanded to invent a horror story.
Ghouls come here and bring me inspiration.
Come from your foul caves!
Show me the secrets of mountain crag, dark abyss and cruel storm.
Awake my mind to sinister and dangerous torments.
from your Alpine peaks, I dare you come.
Monsters, daemons enter; let me see your hideous faces; devour me now!
Ah-ha! You dare not?
If any spirit lives, I call upon it to appear.
There is nothing of any consciousness out there.
The stage goes dark.
A spot lights the curtain gap upstage.
The Angel is revealed.
Angel: Good evening, my lady.
lightning flickers on the alps. Light returns centre stage as
Angel moves downstage to another spot of bright light.
Mary: Oh! Oh! Who are you?
Angel: I am your Angel, bestowed on you by
You called out boldly for me, and here I am at your request.
Mary: I beg your pardon. I was trying to conjure inspiration for a horror story.
Angel: I am an angel with a medical and psychological background. Wreaking horror does not appeal to me.
need no pure white angel. Horror,
heinous horror is my aim.
But a scientist, an ambitious scientist . . . yes . . . a scientist who will create a wicked monster. That interests me. Thank you; that is the start of it.
Enter Frankenstein, stands behind his table, spreads out some padding on the table.
I see this scientist
white coat working at a bench. Not with
a frog’s leg.
He works with human parts, scavenged from mortuaries and carnal houses.
He has chosen the best and hardiest parts. He will imbue this body with life.
Angel: That is a blasphemy indeed.
Mary: Our scientist cares nothing for that. His work utterly enthrals him.
His name must arouse dread.
Our horses trembled as we
passed a village called ‘Frankenstein’.
His name is — Victor Frankenstein.
The angel strides upstage and gestures to the operating table.
Angel: At your command I offer you the scientist, Victor Frankenstein.
SFX: Lighting on Frankenstein as he experiments on a stretcher up stage left. Some light still on mary.
The angel exits by vanishing through the upstage gap.
Mary: Victor Frankenstein?
Frank: I need no interruption here! For countless years I have deprived myself of rest and health for this. I reach the crucial stage of my work and now you come with interruption!
Mary hurries to her desk to pick up the article of Galvani in the scientific journal.
Mary: Will you Galvanise the body into life with a burst of electricity?
Frank: It needs no more than the quiet application of learned science.
Mary: I believe you should try a shock of electricity as Mr Galvani does.
He strides across to Mary’s desk to look at the Galivani article.
All light fades except around Mary’s desk, where both are lit.
In the darkness, the angel lies down unseen on the operating table.
Frank: Mr Galvani made a frog’s leg twitch for a
while! That is nothing to me!
It is a trifle! The frog was lifeless, mere twitching muscle!
Mary: Of course you will go
You will bring life to your creature.
But perhaps a shock of electricity is the impetus you need?
Frank: I shall create life by my own genius.
Mary: No shock, no lightning flash, no thunderbolt?
Frank: None. Take this report away. I need no flashy artifice.
He gives her the journal. She puts it on her desk.
Mary: May I watch as you create this life?
The light returns to the experiment.
Frankenstein hurries back to his operating table. Mary goes with him.
He busies himself attending to the Monster.
You have sewn everything together very neatly.
Frank: All is now done. My creature is clothed and ready for life.
Mary: Indeed it is a terrible moment of dread and yet expectation.
Frank: This is the moment I have lived for, worked for and dreamed of for so many years. I rub and warm it. It now needs just a small inciting impulse.
Mary: Then I call out for the gaudy spark of life! Let it live!
SFX5: There is a sudden flash of lightning and crash of thunder.
Oh, it lives! Dr. Frankenstein, it lives! The creature is breathing! It is alive! It is awake! It has opened pale and watery eyes in a stark and ashen face.
Frank: Stand back! Stand back!
What I craved has happened. It lives!
But it is repulsive! I have created a monster, a monster that revolts me.
Frankenstein lurches away downstage.
Mary: Sir, no! No! Do not run away! You must not leave your creature alone!
Frank: It sickens and appals me. It is hideous. It lives, it breathes, it sighs. The crude being has sight and vigour in its eyes.
Mary shouts accusingly after him.
Mary: An ambitious scientist who hates his own creation. That is my story.
She turns to the monster. It rises, rolls up any bedding and watches her.
Poor creature you are abandoned by your creator. Abandoned with no name by which to call yourself. You are an ugly, ignorant, brute.
Out there in a world of strangers you must fend for yourself. Out there you must go where the icy wind will bite into your body.
Monster exits by the usual Frankenstein exit.
Everyone will take fright at you; your looks are cruel. How will you fare?
Light fades on the stretcher and stage. A spot remains on Mary
Percy: Who are you talking to?
Mary: Ah, Percy, I am working on my story.
Percy: I am glad of it. You are so animated and even show excitement.
Mary: It came to me in a waking
I saw it as clearly as I see you now.
An ambitious Scientist deserting his creation, a monster, sad and vile.
Percy: Indeed you have a theme. My own
story has come to nothing.
And I spoke to Lord Byron on Claire’s behalf, but to no avail.
He is relentless in his determination to cast her off.
Let us leave the night to manage by itself, while we go up to bed.
It is morning the next day in Switzerland.
Poli: Percy told me to come straight in.
Mary: Doctor, and good friend! I am
glad to see you.
I have such a tale to tell you of your angel and the horror story. But just now I am governed by an ugly dispute between Claire and Lord Byron.
Enter Byron and Percy.
Byron: John Polidori, I thought you would have gone.
Poli: My Lord, please consider me already gone.
Mary: Gone, Doctor Poli? Gone? Gone where?
Byron: Doctor Polidori is taking his leave of us immediately.
Poli: I am going to visit Rome and then to explore Florence.
Mary: Is this a sudden decision?
Poli: Very sudden. I have only just a moment to take my leave of you.
Byron: He has set his heart on going at once.
Poli: I shall write to tell you of my journey.
Byron: I will escort you to the door, Sir.
Poli: There is no need for that, my Lord. I can find it well enough.
Mary: Then I wish you well in your travels and long to hear of your adventures.
Polidori gives Mary a formal kiss on the hand, turns, bows to Percy.
He and Byron exit.
(To Percy) Why is Doctor Poli leaving so suddenly?
Percy: Lord Byron has dismissed him.
Yesterday when Lord Byron was entertaining the ambassador and his wife, John Polidori appeared naked on the scene.
Mary: He was naked?
Percy: He mistook the occasion. Byron had been teasing on account of his prudery and conventional behaviour.
Mary: I am sure you have spoken up in the doctor’s defence.
Percy: I have but to no effect. I
know that we shall miss him sadly.
And here a letter has arrived from Fanny.
Gives the letter to Mary.
Mary: Papa asks Fanny to take up paid employment to pay her way. My aunts will not employ her at their school. Her connection to us would be too disturbing for their student’s cautious parents. She asks, what can she do?
Claire: I wish we were over there to console poor Fanny.
Mary: We should take her this little watch that Percy has bought for her.
Claire: Ah, she will love it! Such a pretty watch, Percy.
Mary: And with your Grandfather Shelley’s legacy now spent, we must return to London and talk to your father.
Percy: My remaining funds will allow us to take Elise with us to England.
Claire: William’s nurse would be hard to part with.
Mary: She is very good to William.
Claire: She is most obliging to us all in every way.
Percy: Then she will accompany us to England and that is settled.
Lights dim to blackout
SFX6: music for Back to England
The scene changes to the interior of a cottage in England.
Mary is on stage.
Percy enters from outside.
Mary: Ah, my dear Elf, you are home at last.
Percy: The English skies are grey, the rain incessant.
Mary: With the lawyer — have you settled it?
Percy: No, nothing is settled.
Mary: Did you see the lawyer?
Percy: I did, and I called at your father’s door. Fanny came out, pale and timid. She says that your father asks me for three hundred pounds. He will not deal directly with me, but I must arrange it through a third party. He was adamant about that, even though their larder is bare.
Mary: Papa sent her out to ask you for more money?
Percy: She said that she came out of her own accord.
Mary: Did she send word to me?
Percy: She barely looked into my face. I gave her our gift and I said that I would gladly have given her money too if I had it.
Mary: Go back to the lawyer now, go, hurry, and accept your father’s offer.
He sits down, exhausted.
If you sign over the rights to your inheritance to your sister Elizabeth, your father will allow us a thousand pounds a year.
Percy: My father is in poor health; he may not live out the year.
Mary: But we need bread, and have over-spent our credit with the grocer.
Percy: In a few days I shall write again to my good Uncle.
Mary: It will not serve. Any day we may be
sent to debtor’s prison.
Let me help you up.
Percy: In debtor’s prison I would find many another good soul, tired of the struggle to find payment for his work.
Mary: With a thousand a year we could help with
Claire’s confinement, assist Papa, Peacock, Leigh Hunt, and even
Then think of our Willmouse. He needs a coat and a bonnet so that I can walk out with him. Oh, you must see his latest trick. He can now pull off his socks. I will fetch him here. He will make you laugh and remember how much happier you will feel when you have secured a future for him.
She helps him up.
I am determined on a bonnet with gold thread and lace.
And you have to see Fanny again. I am very worried for her.
Percy: I sincerely hope it is not my death you are mourning by tonight.
Mary: He would give all away, and we will
without a fixed allowance.
But what of me? I hang on his coattails. I am a horsefly on his flesh.
Should I rather rent out my body as a public whore?
But I will not!
Let me at least write a tale of consequence. Let desperation set me afire.
Angel Muse, come to my aid; send me my monster!
Enter Monster with sticks and twigs.
Monster, tell me how did you survive an icy winter in those Alps?
Monster: Of rugged parts I am. Made fire, ate roots and berries.
Mary: The local villagers would set their dogs upon you and chase you off.
Monster: Hid in the wood shed.
Mary: You hid in a wood shed next to a cottage.
Monster: I could see them.
Mary: You could see them through a
hole in the wall.
You heard them talking. Is that how you learned to speak?
You would be very lonely and long to join them.
Monster: Old man, old. (makes sign of being blind)
Mary: There was an old man, kind and blind? You went to call on him when the rest of the family were out. But then the family returned.
Monster: They beat me! I got angry. I burned the cottage down!
Monster starts to make a fire. Mary adds the cushion to the wood of the fire.
Mary: You burnt it down to the ground! To cinder and ashes!
She is about to light the fire on the floor.
In an uncontrollable rage you burned it to the ground. Yes!
It is just what you would do in your disappointment!
You would take
a flint and tinder, just so, and set fire to it!
You are a very wicked monster. You burnt it down.
So you should — blow on the flame — set it alight!
—Oh no! Stop! Stop! What am I doing?! Am I recklessly about to burn down my own home with my own dear baby in it?
Go! Get out of here! You bewilder me! Get out, you devil!!
My Angel, I protest. My Muse deceives me.
The Monster exits angry and puzzled.
Or I deceive
myself. I must keep my head. It is but a tale.
It is but a tale. It is but a tale.
What use is an author who is deceived by the artifice of her own story?
I have command. I do. I write of horror and it affects me because I write it well. I am resolved it shall be utterly heinous and I shall continue with it.
But I will have a happy scene now.
SFX7: We hear a little boy laughing. He runs and squeals in glee and laughs as he plays hide and seek.
Frank: That is my young brother, joyful little William, the light of my life.
Here he is playing in these woods, playing hide and seek with the family’s maid Justine. There he goes, hiding there, and she is seeking for him.
SFX8 : Voice of Little Boy: Justine, catch me!
Voice of Justine: (voice of Elise) William? Where are you?
Mary is getting sleepy. She sits down.
I adore my
young brother, William. I love to see
him at play.
You had a brother named William, did you not?
Mary: He was born to my stepmother when I was four years old. He was loud and rude and stole my place as my father precious dear. He could do no wrong. I loved him not at all.
Frank: Your son’s name is William too?
Mary: It is, and my father is William too. But we do not talk of my Willmouse!
SFX9: Justine: William! William! Where are you?
Your Justine sounds very much like my sister Fanny.
Frank: Ah, my brother hides. Where are you, little boy? It is time to go home now. Come out now!
laughs and laughs again. (continues)
Lights Dim, becoming blue in tone.
Where is he? It is getting dark. He must go home.
The sound of restless wind in trees, owls, and snuffling rodents.
William! William! Call out to me boy! Where are you? It is your brother, Victor. The game is over. Come out, William!
Tense music, wind building, slow heavy feet, and heavy panting breath.
Dogs bark, owls and screech, night sounds Become frantic.
A bundle that is the dead boy is discovered behind the couch.
Frank: What is this?
Mary: Is it a dead child? Yes! It is!
Frank: It is my brother. The rosy child will laugh and play no more. You have given him into the hands of the monster! A heartless deed it is!
Frankenstein picks up the dead boy.
Enter Angel centre upstage.
Angel: Does that serve you for horror, my lady?
Mary: It is very horrible! It is too much. I expected then a happy scene.
Frankenstein exits with the body.
Mary’s maid enters.
Maid: I beg pardon, M’m. Did you call, M’m?
Mary: Elise, is Willmouse playing in the nursery?
Maid: No, M’m. He and Miss Claire have gone out, M’m.
Mary: Where have they gone?
Maid: To the park, M’m.
Mary: Then hurry! Run and bring them home. I shall follow immediately.
Maid: Yes, M’m. Pardon me, M’m, but should they be fetched home if the concert is still playing?
Mary: What concert is this?
Maid: M’m, Miss Claire took your son to the park to hear the band playing. They love the band. They will not like to leave before the concert ends, M’m?
Mary: Oh — I had forgotten it. But how can this be, on a night like this, all storm and wind? There cannot be a concert.
Maid: M’m, it is a beautiful afternoon outside. I was but just admiring the good weather for the festival, M’m.
Mary: We shall still go to meet them. Please run ahead and join them now.
Maid exits. Angel enters.
This story overcomes me. My metal is too weak. I melt before it.
Angel muse, I give up. We must not continue with this tale.
Angel: I pursue the art of horror only at your behest. If you have no further ambition for the challenge, I shall I withdraw.
Mary: Yet, I would be sorry to give way. You must strive not to let me fail.
Frank: I hurry back in torment. The maid Justine has been found in possession of boy’s locket, torn from his neck. The monster has placed it in her pocket. She has been accused of murder and sent to trial.
Mary: I shall attend to that, but first I need a rest and I am going out!
Frank: The court is already in session. Justine’s life hangs by a thread.
Mary: I tell you, this afternoon I need a
I intend to walk out where a gentle breeze will caress my face, and fan my hair; where the sights and sounds of daily life will sooth me; where the band concert plays. Be gone, I beg you until another day!
Frank: The courts do not take their ease because
tire of trouble.
Their judgement is not delayed because it is a sunny afternoon.
Mary: But I do tire and need a rest.
Frankenstein points to the ceiling
Frank: Then, heed this! Heaven cries out at this injustice. Behold Justine!
Suddenly a bundle is released from above the stage. the body of a young girl (A dummy) drops into view, swinging from a noose.
SFX11: chord for Body Hanging, thunder crashes, lightning flashes.
Frankenstein exits during the above effect
Simultaneously Mary gives a piercing scream.
Aah! Who? This hanging body, it looks
Fanny, oh no, what have you done! I was so anxious for you.
No. No. Percy has gone to reassure Fanny this very afternoon. How horribly my mind plays tricks.
I told you, my Muse, that I was tired. This is again too much!
Elise: M’m! A despatch rider has delivered this
urgent letter from London.
The cover of the letter is framed in black.
The rider waits outside. He asks if he should wait for a reply.
Mary: I dare not open it!
light dims to blackout.
SFX12: music for Sad letter
Percy, Mary and Claire are found, saddened at the death of Fanny.
Percy: Mrs Godwin’s opinion is that if I had spoken more kindly to her, Fanny would not have hanged herself.
Mary: And that I caused Fanny’s death by leaving them all in pieces at home.
Claire: And Mama accuses me of never caring for anyone but myself.
Mary: Read your dedication again. We have just a moment. It will sooth us.
Percy: Ah, sister! Desolation is a
It walks not on the earth, it floats not on the air,
But treads with lulling footstep, and fans with silent wing
The tender hopes which in their hearts the best and gentlest bear.
Claire: She was found wearing the little watch we gave her, but her life ran out of time.
Percy: Should I still go to Leigh’s, and not stay here to comfort you?
Mary: You must not disappoint Leigh.
Claire: Leigh tells us in his column that you
very original thinker.
He is well worth a visit. Such a critic will surely cheer you up.
Percy: Mary, have you money in your purse?
Mary: I have, and we have groceries in the larder and treats for Willmouse. I thank you, my love for settling matters with the lawyer.
Percy: Keep up the drawing lessons, they are arranged to cheer you.
Claire picks up a drawing and shows it to Percy.
SFX13: Sound of coach and horses.
Mary: I am sure they will continue to cheer us. Now go.
Claire: The drawing master will be here
directly. He promised to bring an
aristocratic young French girl to model nude for us to draw today.
Now, I suppose, you, Percy, will definitely stay here.
a horse clops smartly past and birds sing and twitter outside.
Mary and Claire fetch drawing pads and pastels and put on pinafores. (Claire is still pregnant)
Enter the drawing master, wearing a French beret and an art teacher’s smock.
Enter Annette from behind a screen, a beautiful young woman. A Grecian drape hangs from one shoulder. She resembles a classic Greek Goddess, slim but rounded with good bones, auburn hair piled up and a couple of ringlets down to a shoulder.
With the drawing master’s help she arranges her drape and takes up a Grecian pose, seated. The master kisses Annette’s hand and turns to his pupils. They sit.
est très jolie.
N’est ce pas? Une beautée
She will inspire the fire for you in the drawing. So how to begin?
First we find the axis and from this the line must flow! Flow! Flow! And counter! Counter! Counter! All with balance. Comme une oiseaux volante.
Mary: Like a flying bird.
The master stands leaning back, waving his hand to describe Annette’s body.
Master: First the axis. Then the angles; always the balance!
Claire tries to impress the instructor. She leans back as he does, draws the axis, sharp cross cuts, dots and flowing lines.
He steps across to look at the student’s work.
Stop! A drape is another lesson! I remove it.
He hurries back to Annette, snatches off the drape, and throws it artistically away.
Cherchez la balance. Voila the balance! Always the balance.
raises and lowers her shoulders and sways.
Then the Master sits in Claire’s place. She leans over and watches him
SFX: a boy passes by whistling a perky tune.
Master draws flowingly on Claire’s drawing while the boy passes by
Annette is amused by the whistling.
Forget balance and your figure will — ?
Claire: Will seem to be toppling over?
Master: Yes, M’zelle Claire. And
this is exactly what we see here.
You are not hearing me well. Watch as I shift my balance. What happens?
Claire: Your axis moves.
Master: And how does it move?
Master: Do you see that my spine curves to keep
head directly over my feet?
This creates the balance of which I speak.
Claire: Well, if you threw off your clothes, I might follow you better.
Master: Now let us discuss the work of M’zelle Mary.
The master is disappointed in Mary’s drawing but tries to be kind.
Mary: Not quite the classic masterpiece, yet?
Claire looks at Mary’s work.
Yours looks like a wife for your monster!
Mary is writing a story about a gruesome monster called Frankenstein!
Mary: The monster is not called
that is the scientist’s name.
The monster has no name. But please let that subject drop.
Claire: She is so fixated on this monster
cannot keep her mind from it,
although it brings her hideous nightmares, and attracts doom and disaster to us. Oh, I’m sorry, I will go and practice on my piano.
Mary is now so rich that she has hired a piano for me. It is just heavenly. Later I will teach piano, and earn my living by it, and repay her for all she has done for me! (offers Mary a kiss)
Mary: I am not so very rich, and please do
and play the piano now!
We are being taught by a very fine master and concentrating on your drawing is the kindest way to thank me. This is planned to distract us from our woes.
Claire surveys her drawing. The master goes to see her work.
Master: A new pose please, Annette.
The drawing turns the page of Claire’s drawing pad and gives her the seat.
Annette takes her new pose. Claire puts down her pastel.
Now come ladies. It is not difficult if you begin with the axis and consider . . .
Claire: consider . . . consider? I wonder, where did you learn to draw, Sir?
Master: As a boy I was taught by several of the most famous tutors.
SFX: A horse clops slowly
past. A man shouts, ‘Cross yer ’eart
Bella! We’s passin’ the door o’ the
spawn o’ Satan!’ ‘Gee up Jessie, gee up ye ol’nag!’
A stone hits the window. The woman laughs coarsely. ‘Take that Shelley’s whores!’
Claire: Ignorant fools! (rushes to the window)
Mary: Ignore them! Come and sit down!
Claire: (shouts out of the window:) You insolent slanderous scum out there! My lover is not Mr Shelley; my beau is the famous Lord Byron who is travelling abroad.
can’t control her giggles and grabs her dressing gown to hide her face
The drawing master indignantly taps Claire’s drawing board.
forgive me. I cannot draw. I have no skill in
I once believed that Lord Byron would put me
on the stage to act, sing, and dance.
Instead he flaunts an Italian Countess all over Italy, leaving me in
this wretched, forlorn condition that tires me of myself.
My face and figure were my fortune. Now look at me and have pity!
Mary: Sir, I apologise sincerely for my sister’s bad manners.
Master: Ladies, I understand. I do understand. S’il vous plait, take a rest M’zelle.
Claire: Understand! Does that help me? Did you ever love and lose your lover to another? Did you ever dream grand dreams of wealth and status, only to find yourself banished, poor, unwanted!
Master: M’zelle, I grew up anticipating great power and status. At your age I fled from France, carrying my baby sister, and a single bag of clothes. My lover and my parents were beheaded. Only miracle allowed me to escape with Annette and my own head.
Mary: You were aristocrats . . . you fled from the French revolution?
Drawing master slaps his wand on his neck.
Claire: Oh, I am very sorry! That is a terrible tragedy! And Annette, your noble sister, must now do this, just one step above prostitution?
Master: Like you, M’zelle Claire, we do not live the life we would like but we must keep the roof over our heads.
Claire: I do sincerely beg your pardon.
Master puts Annette’s dressing gown round her.
Mary: And so do I, M’sieur.
Master: I intend no rebuke ladies, but your patronage will not recommend us well in this small community. We shall no longer accept your invitation or count you amongst our clientelle. Get dressed Annette.
Mary: I do beg your pardon. Indeed I do. Oh dear, I do.
Claire: And so do I. I was quite wrong! And rude!
The master and Annette offer little bows.
Claire: Mary, I was so horrible to those
people. I was so ungovernably rude.
And now I love them, and want them to forgive me, and they are gone.
SFX: We hear a horse and carriage. The sound of voices.
Is this Percy coming home?
Mary hurries to the window with Claire.
Mary: It is our drawing master leaving.
Claire: Mary, assure me that my remarks about your drawing are forgiven.
Mary: I believe I followed her anatomy well, and caught something of her style.
Claire: All the same, hurry to the end of your story. Send your monster to die in the icy wastes of the North. We want him gone. Your nerves are worse than ever they were. And I now feel myself infected by some essence of its presence. Somehow I feel it bearing down on us with evil intent.
Oh Mary, I frighten myself. I wish Percy would come home!
SFX14 Music for Monster Chase.
The lighting becomes eery.
wind howling, wolves howling.
Mary is at her desk asleep – and dreaming. Claire unseen lies on the couch asleep, covered with a rug.
Enter Frankenstein and the Monster following.
Frank: The monster follows me, always
attention. I long to be rid of it, but
it will not leave me.
Rid me of the beast! Let me go home to my estates and my Elizabeth.
Monster sees the drawing.
Monster: Ah! Here, ahh, aaahhh! See here, ah, aaarh! Give me this, my bride!
Frank: What is it? A drawing? A portrait of a woman?
Monster: As I am your Adam, this is my Eve!
Frank: Never! Never! I will never create another monster!
Monster: Create for me my Eve! She is mine! Give me mine! Make me happy, Master! I will take her and go away, far, far away.
Frank: I shall never see you again? You will go away forever? Right away?
Monster: I will be good. I will go far away. As I ache for her, you must work speedily. Work speedily or I will kill your Elizabeth!
Frank: I was tempted, but now you threaten, I become sane again.
Monster: She will make me good, Master. Make her before I take the evil route. Master, make your son good. Give this Adam his Eve.
Frankenstein turns to Mary with the drawing. He puts his hand on Mary’s shoulder. She wakes startled.
Mary: Take your hand off me!
Frank: Is this your drawing?
Mary: Yes, that is my drawing?
Frank: The creature has seen it and now
demands a mate.
He threatens my Elizabeth. She means more to me than my own life.
I must hurry away to scour the mortuaries for female body parts.
(to monster) Come monster, you shall help me to dig, and sort and carry.
Frank exits followed by Monster.
The lights change in a variety of ways.
SFX15: Stormy, We hear a coach and horses approaching.
Mary: My story continues even in my
nightmares. It has taken a momentum of
its own and now moves faster. I have
now a double horror. Aready I feel
another threatening presence.
I grow hot and cold and moist with fear.
She goes to wake Claire.
Claire, wake up. Wake up! We have stayed up all night waiting for Percy.
Claire: (sleepily sitting up) Is he back?
Mary sits on the couch with Claire, they pull up the rug and huddle together.
Mary: Calamity approaches.
Claire: You have been brooding on horrors yet again.
Mary: I have not control. A new, terrifying revelation bears down upon us.
Claire: I hear it, someone approaches with unsteady steps in the dead of night!
SFX16: Sound of wind and hurried uneven footsteps.
Percy enters wearing his coat and carrying a case. He looks drained and tousled.
Mary: Ah, Percy it is you, home again at
last! It is very bleak out, yet here
You are not harmed?
Percy: Hail forced our horses to take shelter so I came on by foot.
Mary: At such a risk! Let me see. Are you now much happier under that rumpled hair? No! Oh no, what is wrong? You are ill? What is so terrible?
Percy: My weary ghost is here. Such an innocent she was. What have I done?
He sags onto the couch. Mary sits by him in great consternation.
Claire: You went away to get cheered up! You have come back worse!
Percy: Dead by her own hand, I am told.
Mary: Who is now dead?
Percy: My wife. Harriet has been found, pregnant and drowned in the Serpentine.
Claire: Harriet, your wife, was pregnant
drowned herself. Poor girl!
Soon we shall all be dead at our own hand. Perhaps I should congratulate myself that I did not drown myself yet for all the disappointment I endure.
Oh well, in thinking on it, there is good and bad in this.
You two could now legally be married — what is to stop you, except for Percy’s famous views on the evils of marriage, of course. What were your words?
Percy: “It is forced prostitution.”
“ . . . a system could not well have been designed more studiously hostile to human happiness than marriage.”
Claire: And now you have Harriet’s children to
consider. Will they come here?
Will I be thrown out into the barn with my baby?
Well, as I cannot help you I will leave you to each other and go to bed.
Claire exits upstairs.
Percy: I will go up too. I have
travelled all day and night.
Oh come friend night, pray let me find forgetfulness in blessed sleep.
Mary: I will follow you up just now.
Percy exits, stumbling upstairs.
Mary sits on the couch, shivers and draws up her knees under the rug and hugs them.
Frankenstein enters with a sack of parts and puts them onto the trestle.
Frank: My Lady, I have the body parts required. I will now set about the creation of the monster’s Eve! The sooner she is made the faster we shall be rid of him.
Frankenstein places the sack of parts on his trestle and attends to them.
Mary: I have to consider the repercussions. Decisions must be made.
Frank: This is irrevocable. I must work fast or I will lose this female to decay.
Mary: Though it pains me, I must look
The fact is that if Percy’s children come to live with us, my William will lose his pre-eminence. Harriet’s son Charles will be the eldest. Harriet’s daughter, Ianthe, will steal Percy’s heart and all will be lost for me and mine.
Frank: All will be lost to me if the creature’s bride rots away!
Light: early dawn breaks outside.
Mary: You are very pert. It is already dawn. Time that moved so slowly is now moving at a pace. And in the light of day it becomes clear — if Percy brings the facts before the Chancery Court, they could declare me to be an unfit parent. I might then lose even my own dear Willmouse?
Frank: This must be carefully done. I have a thousand veins, arteries and nerves that must not be confused!
Mary: It must be carefully done. I must advise him, though my advice will stink!
Percy enters. He is dressed for business in the city.
Percy, my dear love? I was just coming up to bed.
Percy: You did not come to bed. I could not sleep. It is now morning.
Percy goes to the desk, and picks up paper and a quill.
Mary: To whom must you write so early?
Percy: I must persuade the courts that Harriet’s parents are too old and too illiterate to raise my little ones. Charles and Ianthe must come here to us.
Mary: Before you write please think . . .
Percy: They may today award them to the Westbrooks, or to her spinster sister.
Mary: Please stop. Do you remember you once wrote to Harriet’s sister, saying that she might excusably regard me as the cause of Harriet’s ruin? That was before Harriet killed herself. How much more will everyone blame me now? We must not provoke the law. We must go gently.
Claire enters with two travelling bags, ‘hers’ large and ‘his’ small..
Claire: I have a plan. Percy and I shall go to London. Percy will plead for his children. And with Harriet now gone, Mary’s Papa and my Mama may be persuaded to relent towards us. There I shall be your advocate.
Percy: You share my thoughts. Let us be on our way, at once!
Mary: You cannot go so hastily! You - you will need clothes to take!
Claire: I have them packed. His here. Here mine.
Percy takes the bags.
Mary: You should not travel in your condition.
Claire: The imminence of my confinement may be the only force to revive Mama’s affection for me.
Percy takes hold of the bags.
Percy: Then we shall go immediately and see what can be done.
Mary: Will you not even kiss me as you go out?
Percy: You will hardly notice my
You are so immersed in Frankenstein. All night, and such a night,
I have spent
Nothing has served you but your tale.
Mary: But stay. Oh wait. Oh please, I beg you.
Claire: We must catch the first stage-coach.
Percy: It will be ready to depart. We must run!
Claire and Percy exit, bags in hand.
Mary stares after them.
SFX17 A cock crows – cock-adoodle-do.
SFX18: music for Waiting
During this scene the morning
light gradually spreads across the stage.
Frankenstein’s workbench is lit.
Mary is pacing. Frankenstein works at his operating table.
Frank: Mary? The female creature is now assembled. I am ready to give her life, yet I am filled with trepidation. She has not sworn to follow the fiend to the freezing wastes at the extremity of the world. The evil pair may hatch a brood to desolate the world.
Mary is studying an old tomb of a book.
Mary: Claire has gone to London with my Percy. Night after sleepless night I stay here with you — a man of my imagination who brings a sordid carcass into life. I visit the writings of a poor Cornish woodcarver’s son, Humphry Davy. He was apprenticed to a surgeon apothecary and from thence he made a study of electrochemistry, and then became a distinguished Professor at the Royal Institution of London. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society, admired by Erasmus Darwin, an associate of our old friend, Wedgwood, from Percy’s college days. This Humphrey was a visitor to Godwin, and once dandled me upon his knee.
Now I repose in bed with only this, his works on anatomy.
What do I care for him or you?
She rips up the drawing of Eve.
See here, I have ripped the monster’s Eve to pieces. Remove that ghastly carcass!
Go! Get out of here! Be gone; and take this book!
Lights dim to blackout.
Frankenstein exits, taking the body of Eve off stage.
I wait and wait.
Percy does not
write. From Claire I have no news.
Twelve days are already gone!
Is this is retribution for my careless ways.
Maid: M’m? Did I hear you call, M’m?
Mary: Girl, what do you know of vengeance?
Is it a sin to be vengeful?
Maid: Oh M’m! I do not know.
Mary: Tell me, is yours a vengeful God, or does your Lord God love and guide his creation?
Maid: I’m sure I couldn’t say, M’m.
You couldn’t really?
Not at all?
Maid: I’m sure the likes of me should not
Cross me ’eart, M’m, I prefer to say me prayer and let that be an end to it.
Mary: Boldness is a sin, is it not, a presumption of our right, our strength, a test of our own power? I eloped with my lover. I went out and took with guile and force the bring that I love.
Maid: M’m? You have not slept again last night.
Mary: Every day we wait for Mr Shelley, but he does not come home.
Maid: Yes, M’m. (curtsies) I have heard it said that business is done slow in London is slow, M’m?
Mary: Of course it is. I am in such a stupid state of mind.
Maid: May I tidy the room, M’m?
Mary: Yes of course you must. What a mess that wind has made blowing shreds of paper all around. I should help you to tidy it.
Maid: Oh, M’m, I could not allow it. You must not! It is my place to tidy, M’m.
Mary: I was born at a time like this. The entire world was frightened by a new comet, foul presentiments and strange weather with droughts that killed the crops and hail that killed nearly all the hens in England. When I was but twelve days old my mother died, at twelve days my baby girl died, and now twelve days have passed and still no news.
Maid: We expect Sir to return any day, M’m.
Mary: Some news will come today, I am sure.
A flash of lightning and boom of thunder.
Maid: Yes, M’m. I beg pardon, M’m but will that be all, M’m?
Mary: Yes, thank you, Elise. There is nothing more to be done.
The maid bows and exits.
Mary: Angel! Angel! Angel! Where are you?
The lighting changes.
The angel appears, wearing the white shift.
Angel, what have you brought me to?
Angel: I brought you a horror story. I have become a monster in your cause.
Mary: You are insidious and unrelenting.
Angel: That is the nature of horror, my Lady.
A knock at the door.
Elise: M’m. Mr Hogg is arrived. Should he come in?
Mary: Mr Hogg?
Elise, do I look too disreputable?
Elise: You look fair rough, M’m, but he may cheer you.
Mary: Bring him straight in.
Elise: Yes, M’m.
Enter Hog; exit Elise.
Mary: Come in and welcome, dear friend.
I am in every way glad you have come.
You find me very unkempt, but Thomas, I am so lost and tired and anxious.
Percy neither returns home nor even answers my letters.
I have begged him to let me join him in London, but I get no reply.
Hogg: I have hurried to you on account of your letter to me. Immediately on receipt of it, I began to make enquiries.
Mary: Thank you, what news is there of
Percy? I would search of him, but where
should I look? Perhaps he is even now
What did you find?
Hogg: I found that Claire is staying with your father and her mother.
Mary: They have accepted her?
Hogg: They have, and she has given birth to a little girl, and Percy has been calling upon them each day.
Mary: Oh? I am amazed!
Hogg: I have to tell you that the kindness Percy always showed to Claire has now turned to love and they plan to share . . .
Mary: . . share what?!
Hogg: They plan to share nothing less than — wedded bliss!
Mary: No! No! You tell a vile untruth! Percy loves me and he adores our son.
Hogg: Claire insists that you have a wild, lascivious nature. That your wanton lust brought about the births of your babies; that nobody is sure who fathered them, and that Percy has cared for you only because you are her sister.
Mary: I do not believe it. None of it!
Hogg: I swear to you, it is well
I have it from Claire’s Mama.
Mrs Godwin is proudly shopping for wedding attire and sending out invitations.
Oh, I should have spoken more gently in the delivery of these shocking tidings.
Mary: You are right to tell me straight and speedily.
Hogg: In your letter, you said you needed me, perhaps now . . . Mary, now at last is there reason for me to hope that you will you be mine?
Again I ask you Mary, “Will you please consider me for your husband?”
Mary: Please get up, Hogg.
I should not have troubled you with my woes.
Hogg: I am glad you did. And now please know, dear, how ardently I love you. When you are ready Mary, I am here for you.
Mary: Thomas Hogg. You might take a letter to London for me?
No, that will
not do. You shall take me. Thank you, Thomas Hogg!
Take me to London, dear Thomas! Take me home.
Hogg: Mary! You dear sweet girl! You accept me?
Mary: I can be ready in fifteen minutes.
Hogg: I will run out and tell my man to
horses in harness.
Oh Mary, how happy you make me. You will never regret this.
He exits excitedly.
What can he mean? I regret
Through her tantrums and tempers, I’ve fed and clothed Claire.
Consoled and cared for her in all her foolishness!
I have been a blind fool. Distracted, blind and stupid.
I must wash my face and go to London.
Same cottage room, bright and sunny.
enters in wedding guest attire.
Claire enters, not pregnant, but with her baby in her arms.
Claire: My little one has been so good. Do you not agree, Thomas?
yes, I suppose she has.
I was surprised though that Percy did not get custody of his children.
Claire: A lovely wedding it was?
Hogg: And both the Reverend Godwin and his wife were in the church.
Claire: You mean after the embarrassment of all the dreadful lies that Mama spread about. At least the rumours forced Papa, at last, to speak to Percy.
Hogg: Your Mama had me convinced. And made a fool of me.
Claire: You were very eager to believe her.
Enter Mary and Elise.
Mary: Oh Elise, please go and walk with Willmouse. He is dragging Percy off the path to pick flowers at every moment.
Elise: Yes M’m.
Enter Percy. He takes Mary’s hand.
Hogg: So, my friend, you are a married man, yet again.
Percy: I am married again, for better or for worse.
Mary: Percy and I are happily wed; and Thomas Hogg, we do not deserve a friend as true as you.
Hogg: You have your heart’s desire.
Percy: And more besides. Mary’s story is finished and has been accepted for publication. At the end; I advised her to have Frankenstein and the monster swept away entirely in the tides and blizzards of the North.
Claire: I am certain that it was my idea to have them both swept away.
They freeze except for Mary
Enter Frank with a bundle.
Frank: I have found the dead body
of my Elizabeth. The beast has killed
I will never raise my head to smile or laugh again. I have nothing left to live for, yet I shall not perish. I shall stay to haunt the world forever.
Mary: He will not die. He is out upon the world and I cannot silence him. His fame will outlast mine.
SFX20: Willmouse laughing outside with Elise. “Elise, catch me!”
Justine: William! William! Where are you?
Elise, where are you? Bring William to me now.
Elise comes forward and bows to audience.
Angel steps forward to address audience.
Angel: At this place we must let our drama rest.
We bid you to take care, banish all evil monsters from your mind, and soon go safely home.
Angel bows. The others step forward; take their bows in turn, and then together.
SFX21: Music for exit