THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

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And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley & the Curse of Creation
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 E. Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, CA
February 9-12, Thursday-Saturday 8pm
Sunday matinee, 2pm

 

Imagine you could have everything you ever dreamed of, and when that dream comes true, it turns out to be a bit more than you bargained for – a monster of your own creation that is, at times, beyond your control.

 

Playwright Robert Weibezahl presents the excellent new work And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley & the Curse of Creation at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center this weekend. And like the creative lightning that struck the Frankenstein author’s pen one night in a remote Swiss room almost 200 years ago, Weibezahl’s play will be here for one weekend only.

 

Those who love the creation of literature, Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, or just a good ghost story will delight in Weibezahl’s new creation. Part biopic and part product of a vivid imagination, Lightning achieves the unique balance of being wildly entertaining without bogging down in history. Weibezahl keeps the audience moving thru Shelley’s extraordinary life, and shows how the monster she created often came back to haunt her throughout her life.

 

We first meet 33 year-old Mary Shelley (Kay Capasso) in her Bournemouth, England parlor in 1830. A young man named Matthews (Cole Wagner) has come on behalf of her readers to convince Mary to write a new introduction to Frankenstein. Matthews is a bit of a literary wonk; he knows the work that influenced Mary, as well as what came to life in that flash of Mary’s pen. Despite his charm, Shelley is initially reluctant to recite the tale of how she bore her creature, born out of a “chaos of the heart.”

 

Through Mary’s recollections, Weibezahl delivers the characters central in that chaotic period, particularly a bohemian visit to Lake Geneva, Switzerland as a violent storm raged. Currently thick in her courtship with Percy Shelley (Schafer Bourne), this eager young Mary (Jennifer Ridgeway) brings along sister Claire (Alyssa Villaire) and the thoroughly pompous Lord Byron (Evan Smith). It is here, during a four-day long storm, that Byron dares each guest to write a ghost story.

 

Polidori (Cole Wagner) weaves a vampire tale to keep his audience on edge. As the storm rages on, Mary finally rises to the challenge and for the first time, commits her infamous creature to paper. Soon after, Weibezahl brings him off Mary’s page and directly onto the stage.

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The Creature, played with clear & precise fluidity by Tom Mesmer, is a poor, miserable wretch his creator refuses to call ‘monster.’ The Creature’s appearance brings a new and necessary dynamic to Lightning; as a device it pushes the play beyond mere biopic and, as later Hollywood movies would exclaim, brings it truly alive.

 

As Mary embraces him, we see how her greatest joy has also been this creator’s great trap. The cast slowly assembles around Shelley once again, each having played a part in creating this sometimes uncontrollable monster that is an extraordinary woman’s greatest achievement, burden, and ultimately, her destiny.

 

 

And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley

& the Curse of Creation

Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center

3050 E. Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, CA

February 9-12, Thursday-Saturday

Sunday matinee, 2pm

 

Tickets: Call or 805-583-7900, or online at:

http://www.simi-arts.org/events.aspx?event=366