Phantasmagoria; or Let Us Seek Death! is now playing at LaMaMa in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”. The piece is directed and conceived by Randolph Curtis Rand, written by Chana Porter, produced by Eric Borlaug and features puppetry by Benjamin Stuber. Some of these creative people have recent Spotlight On interviews on this site.
Some of the things that we take for granted nowadays did not exist in quite the same organized forms 200 years ago. This multimedia performance focuses on two of those related things: horror and feminism. As becomes evident near the end, when a college class analyses “Frankenstein” and the circle of writers from which it emerged, the author’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, gave her daughter the courage to try to change the world through unorthodox love and empowerment. Yet, those who tried incurred great personal losses.
|photo by Theo Cote|
As the fiction unfolds, we also learn that Claire committed suicide after having a child with Byron. Polidori also may have committed suicide. Percy Shelley drowned and Mary raised their last surviving child while writing and ultimately trying to appear socially respectable.
The set (designed by Randolph Curtis Rand and Marc Bovino) has a captivating display of alchemical symbols painted on the floor. The characters quote from Paracelsus, Albertus Magnus, Rumi, Blake, Milton, Mary Wollstonecraft, and many more literati. Much research has gone into this interesting production. As the characters suggest, they were indeed embracing what today would be called free love and non-monogamy. A modern and fresh feel comes from the cast: youthful, handsome in Kima Baffour’s costumes, and ethnically diverse.