London Horror Festival 2021
Mary is pissed. She lives in the shadow of the monster she created. Grappling with fame, scandal, sex, opium and motherhood – it’s time to set the record straight. This fiercely rebellious one-woman show is a comedy-punk-rock retelling of the life of Frankenstein’s author, the Mutha of all Monsters.
Hi Nic, thank you for talk to The New Current, has this time provided you with any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Against all odds, it has! When the pandemic hit, I think writers and performers were forced to get creative about how they share their work. I had previously written a sitcom called Ron the Gnome that we adapted and filmed over Zoom, released online and was later featured on BBC Radio. I got to see some stunning online theatre, including a streamed version of the incredible and chilling one-woman show Outside by Gabrielle McPherson, which you can now see live at London Horror Fest on 20th & 21st October. Watching that performance really inspired me to keep working on my own one-woman show.
What does it mean to you to be bringing your new show Mary Shelley: Muthamonster to the London Horror Festival 2021, are there be any nerves ahead of your run?
I’m immensely pleased to be back at London Horror Festival – all three of my plays have premiered with LHF and it feels like coming home to an (albeit slightly spooky) family. It means a lot having come out the other side of the pandemic too. There’s always a few nerves, particularly as this is my first ever solo show. But I have an amazing team that I’m working with and I’m excited about sharing this story.
Can you tell me a little bit about Mary Shelley: Muthamonster, what was the inspiration behind your new show?
Mary Shelley: Muthamonster is the life story of Mary Shelley told with a modern-day edge, a dash of dark comedy and a slice of horror. In it, Mary is a punk rockstar (the show features some classic female rock songs), as in her time the Romantic poets and authors did achieve that kind of rebellious celebrity. I started looking into her story and found some incredible and surprising events (no spoliers here!), and also this feminist through-line to her life. I just felt there was a lot a modern day audience could connect to.
I have also recently become a mother, and another thread of ‘Muthamonster’ is motherhood; what it meant then to Mary, and what it means to me now.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing Mary Shelley: Muthamonster to the stage?
I think I’m quite greedy in that I wanted moments that make you laugh, moments that make you think, and genuinely chilling moments too – so balancing all of those in an hour long show has been our main challenge!
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Ever since I played a ‘Flower Fairy’ at the age of 5 in my local am dram pantomime. Now I’m playing the Mother of Science Fiction. Who’d have thunk it?
"Our work has transformed over the years from improvisation, to sketch comedy, to full length-plays and now one-person shows."
What is it about horror that interests and inspires you so much as a creator?
Horror comes in so many forms; melodrama, dark comedy, the macabre, the ghostly, the gore… I adore them all and like to take pinches of each to flavour my shows.
How did House Macabre come about and much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
House of Macabre was born out of my comedy duo The Twins Macabre with fellow performer, writer, and on this production director Adam Rhys-Davies. We have an incredible working relationship and just like two creepy twins, have an almost psychic appreciation for horror and comedy. Our work has transformed over the years from improvisation, to sketch comedy, to full length-plays and now one-person shows. Adam’s own one-man show The Graham Show can be seen on 13th November also at The Pleasance.
Our other incredible House of Macabre family members include: Producer Ellie Wood, Lighting Designer Benjy Adams and Scriptwork & SM Grace Davis.
What's the best piece of advice you would offer fellow theatre-makers?
Make what you love. Your passion will be infectious.
And, finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Mary Shelley: Muthamonster?
I hope they get to indulge in some Gothic punk-rock rebellion and the life of a woman who was, in the words of Frankenstein’s Monster: ‘fearless and therefore powerful.’