“A Masterclass in Theatre”
Nick Hennegan’s play adaptation The Birth of Frankenstein has received very good reviews at the Edinburgh Festival.
“A dazzling collection of characters… raw energy, solid performances and an engaging story” – The Scotsman
“A Masterclass in Theatre” – Fringe Review
The writer, producer, director of the show, Nick, lives in Chiswick and runs the Maverick Theatre Company which puts on plays and theatre craft courses as well as running the London Literary Pub tours in central London.
“I was delighted with the response” says Nick, who has been putting on shows at the Edinburgh Fringe now for over 30 years. “Finding the money was really difficult this time, a bit of a slog, so I am doubly pleased as we didn’t know we were definitely going until it was too late for us to be in the official brochure.
“It was all very last minute, but we sold out seven performances during the month we were there just by word of mouth. I’m delighted with the cast, they’ve done extremely well and it’s great to get such a positive reaction.”
Based on the true story
The Birth of Frankenstein is by Robert Lloyd George and has been adapted and directed by Nick Hennegan, wth original Music by Robb Williams.
The scenario is that teenager Mary Godwin and her new lover Percy Shelley travel to Geneva to spend the summer with the poet Lord Byron, Byron proposes that they ‘each write a ghost story’. Unable to think of a story, young Mary became anxious: but the events of evenings in Geneva lead to a nightmare that becomes – Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley did in real life start writing Frankenstein when she was 18 and the first edition of her book was published when she was 20. She also married Percy Bysshe Shelley.
She travelled through Europe in 1815, following the River Rhine through Germany and stopping in Gernsheim, 17km from Frankenstein castle, where two centuries earlier there had been an alchemist who had carried out experiments. She then travelled on to Geneva where she and Shelley stayed with Byron and other friends.
The competition with Lord Byron to write a horror story is also true and the resulting classic about a scientist who was horrified by what he had created is credited as being the first true science fiction novel and has had considerable influence on popular culture ever since.
After the play’s success in Edinburgh the company is presenting the show in Birmingham for three nights at a function room in the Billesley pub before heading home.
Nick, who is from Billesley himself, grew up on the council estate where the pub is. He left school with no qualifications but has set up his own theatre company, written a number of plays and has made it his mission to introduce theatre to “people like me”.
“We produce theatre in pubs and invite people along for a pint and a fag to see where TV and film all started.”
When he is finished with The Birth of Frankenstein in Birmingham he will be turning his mind to his next big project – taking a show to Broadway.
“It’s a bit surreal. I wrote a version of A Christmas Carol and we open with it on Broadway, in New York, in December. We have also been invited to perform at the Hollywood Fringe.”
The Birth of Frankenstein previewed for one night at The Tabard theatre in Chiswick in July and it is to be hoped that, in amongst all the globe trotting, it comes back to Chiswick so more of us can see it.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar