The Heart of Frankenstein by Patricia Jones. Sydney Fringe Festival at TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer Street. Jan 22-23; Feb 5-6, 1999 8pm.
TAP Gallery is above a bathroom accessories design firm. Upstairs the design is modern eclectic rococo: a preponderance of green, purple, blue and yellow - all sort-of organic. Self-managed by the artists who use the space, TAP's Fringe program began by opening the Amnesty International Art Award ($1000) on the theme "FREEDOM" and includes the "digit.au" Computer Art Award sponsored by Apple Centre Status Graph. Ring Lesley at TAP on 02 9361 0440 if these interest you (to enter or see exhibits).
TAP has three galleries with continuous exhibitions of art work - and Patricia Jones' "Gothic ramble through the hearts and minds of poets and monsters real and imaginary during the time of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'".
It's a long ramble - nearly 3 hours - and suffers I think from the self-managing artist's syndrome. Jones wrote, directed, made the artwork and did the (very minimal) lighting. The result, from the production values point of view, was not exciting, even though the actors were generally skilled and held things together. Cath Young (Mary Shelley), Nicholas Mitsakis (Lord Byron) and Scott Hailstone (Percy Bysshe Shelley) formed the core with strong support from Kylie McCormack (Lady Caroline Lamb) and Elizabeth Richmond (Augusta Byron).
Though the script needs a good dramaturg and should be a great deal shorter, the story is a fascinating study of Mary Shelley, the only normal personality, having to deal with two talented but impossible poets, constantly in challenge posture and sexually destructive of all the women - sisters or other wives - who come into their purview.
From her marriage to her husband's death in the famous boating accident (which looks like death-wish fulfilment) we explore with Mary the idealism of Shelley's social justice themes, Byron's social nihilism, the diversion from dealing with ordinary reality which is at the heart of the art of poesy; and on the way, the denial of women's rights.
From this experience, Mary creates her monster: Pygmalion's beauty, but her Galatean scientist failed to include the ability to reason. Her novel still stands beside her husband's poetry, and we are still in need of both.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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