Not all that many people know that Mary Shelley got the idea for her novel Frankenstein from a supernatural story contest set by Lord Byron at his villa on Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816. Tamara Micner's imagining of this event avoids clunky historical exposition, whilst giving the uninformed audience member enough pointers to grasp the situation (though one imagines that a student of early 19th century literature might get more out of the discussion of fragments of Childe Harold).

This is, it seems, a play more concerned with writing than with the social or historical situation of its characters, and therein lie both its strengths and weakness. Micner's script is strikingly witty and polished for a piece of new student writing, with some killer lines. There does seem to be some confusion in the historical register of the language – several archaisms sit uneasily alongside modern slang - but in general the dialogue is very sharp. The stage decor and furnishings are convincingly of the period as well, the 'proper' chandelier (with actual candles!) being a particularly nice touch. Some of the scene changes did seem unnecessarily long, though, which sapped the energy of the play at frustrating moments.

The acting was generally good, if not spectacular – though the opening section in particular felt very static and lacking in energy. As Lord Byron, Adam Drew had a good level of detachment and disdain (his entrance in a kimono, singing Italian opera was particularly fun), but didn't seem as dégagé as one likes to imagine Byron to have been. The stand-out performance came from Jack Oxley as Byron's 'companion' John Polidori, who exhibited wonderful levels of camp venom. His preposterously dramatic reading of his own contribution to the story competition is one of the show's high points, and another instance of very clever writing.

Micner's aim seems to be to show how the social tensions present in Byron's villa at that time provided the spark for Shelley's creation. This is often skilfully done, but there are times at which the focus on writing glosses over the play's action - the ditzy Claire Clairmont (Catherine Trinder), out to 're-seduce' or 'reduce' Byron, is underused, for instance. Ultimately, I was left unsure of exactly what the relationship was between the characters and Shelley's story. This lack of focused narrative drive means that the characters, as John Polidori puts it, are 'languishing like the stories in [his] story'. This is frustrating, but when it's done this well, also intelligent, funny and certainly worth seeing.

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