AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 1983... 1983 Mary Shelley and The Monsters : A Smoked Opera for the Quick and the Dead
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Latest Issues

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Play with music.

Written by Tim Robertson and several 'ghost' writers from the Australian Performing Group, Mary Shelley and the Monsters is described by its author as 'a scatty and hallucinant reverie about the life and times of Mary Shelley' the narrative focuses on Mary's creation of Frankenstein and a North Italian holiday that ended with her husband's death by drowning." In his foreword to the Yakandandah publication, writes further : 'It is a musical fantasy... the Romantic Glorification of the Imagination and Death undermined by the sex-war and physical dissolution. [It is] an attempt to spin a web between Goya and Gertrude Stein. As a performance piece its sine qua non is an ensemble of open, acrobatic, musical clowns of a poetic bent, with a taste for the macabre and an impulse to excess' (p5). Leonard Radic has also described the play as 'stylistically erratic, lurching from burlesque to opera and back again to pantomime or melodrama with a hint of Dada, some phallus play and a hearty scene of grand guignol thrown in for good measure at the end' (Age 27 March 1975, p2).

The dramatic action is set in a murky grotto, which turns out to be a Shelley Museum in Rome, the story line essentially looks at Shelley's relationship with the male monsters in her life - husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and her father William Godwin.

The music content comprises the group composed 'Overture Mysterioso' (scored for a band playing piano chords, a long drawn violin note, and a tick-tock drip from percussion blocks), along with such pieces as 'The Mountains of Mourne', 'Little Mary Shelley' and 'The Byron Blues'.


  • First produced by the Australian Performing Group at the Pram Factory, Melbourne, 25 March 1975. Typescript at FL.
  • Yackandandah Playscripts calls this 'a musical fantasy whose score was never transcribed, but does exist on an ancient videotape'.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 18 Jan 2018 13:01:20