'Frankenstein' emerges May 11 in Pumphouse Players' production
by Marie Nesmith
May 02, 2012 | 2272 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Morgan McCrary, from left, Mike Davis, Jen Garrett and William Brooks rehearse a scene from “The Frankenstein Summer,” which opens May 11 at The Legion Theatre.
Morgan McCrary, from left, Mike Davis, Jen Garrett and William Brooks rehearse a scene from “The Frankenstein Summer,” which opens May 11 at The Legion Theatre. SPECIAL
For Morgan McCrary, the opportunity to portray Mary Godwin has been an enriching experience. Centered around her character, The Pumphouse Players' upcoming production of "The Frankenstein Summer" presents the various components in which Godwin's horror story "Frankenstein" emerged.

"My character is Mary, who eventually would become Mary Shelley, who was the author of 'Frankenstein,'" McCrary said. "I used to teach English literature and I've always been interested in it and I've always loved the book 'Frankenstein.' So the opportunity to get to play the very interesting lady who wrote it was one that I couldn't pass up. ... [In the play] she is the calm in the middle of a very dramatic storm.

"She is surrounded by a houseful of huge personalities and egos, and they're all very creative people. And she seems to be the one that is a little bit more levelheaded, I guess, and just kind of the peacekeeper among all of that, where things could go terribly wrong. They all have cabin fever. They've been stuck inside this villa in Switzerland for days because it's been pouring rain and they're all getting a little sick of each other and Mary does her best to try to maintain calm."

To be held at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St. in Cartersville, "The Frankenstein Summer" will be presented May 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. In addition to McCrary, the play also will feature Mike Davis as Lord George Gordon Byron, Jen Garrett as Claire Claremont, Adam Kelley as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mike Harris as Fletcher and William Brooks as John Polidori.

"In spite of the title, this is not a horror story," said Suzanne Husting, director of "The Frankenstein Summer." "This is a story about the creative process about the creation of the story that we have come to know as 'Frankenstein' and the juxtaposition of events that brought a group of very talented people together at a very unusual time. And essentially [it] ignited the creative spark in them to produce this story that we've come to know. So as an actor and as a director and [as] an artist, I'm interested in the creative process and that was probably [what drew me to it].

"I've been very surprised since presenting this play for production to our board and having it accepted, the number of people who are aware of this specific historical event because it is based on actual events in the summer of 1816 that brought together the poet Lord Byron and Shelley, his compatriot, and then two women of their very close acquaintance -- Mary Godwin, who became Mary Shelley, and her stepsister Claire Claremont along with Byron's physician, John Polidori, who himself wrote the first vampire story that brought the vampire into literature out of folklore and, of course, William Fletcher, the butler, who gets to provide us with a little bit of comic relief."

In bringing "The Frankenstein Summer" to the Cartersville stage, Husting is delighted to reintroduce Byron and Shelley, who were "revolutionaries and rock stars of their time" to today's audience.

"Byron is an intriguing character. He's probably one of the preeminent poets of English literature," Husting said. "But beyond that, when you start studying Byron and Shelley and their contemporaries in what is called the romantic movement of English literature, you discover that these weren't just lazy-dazy fellows who were reclining on couches dreaming up pretty words. They were literally the revolutionaries and rock stars of their time. Byron, besides being a writer, was also a political revolutionary. ... Shelley was a proponent of free love as evidenced by the fact that he was living with both Mary and her stepsister and traveling with them all over Europe.

"They talk about they actually use a drug of the time called laudanum, which is an elixir made from poppy pods. So it's an opiate. This elixir was dissolved or mixed in wine or brandy, so alcohol and opiates at the same time. And they used these as kind of like the children of the '60s, to open the doors of perception, to enter into the spiritual state, to see the world in a different way. And they affected beyond literature, they affected the lifestyles, the culture and the mores of the time. They very, very much like the youth quake of the '60s, they just turned over everything that was normal and introduced completely new ways of thinking and being and doing to the world."

Tickets for "The Frankenstein Summer" are $12 for general admission, $10 for Pumphouse Players members and for pre-paid groups of 10 or more people. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.pumphouseplayers.com or call 770-387-2610.