Even if you’ve never read Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, you’ve certainly heard of the stiched-together monster the teenage mother invented during a drizzly 1816 summer vacation on Lake Geneva, in response to a contest proposed by Lord Byron for each vacationer – a crowd that also included Mary’s lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, and her stepsister (and Byron's lover) Claire Clairmont. The other stories invented on those decadent nights have been lost to time (except for John Polidori's The Vampyre), but Mary Shelley’s "creature"—inspired by a nightmare that may have been laudanum-induced—has become one of the most popular characters in English literature and pop culture, with hundreds if not thousands of appearances in movies, plays, television shows, comics, toys, songs, video games, advertisements, and parodies.
But if you think that there's no way left to retell this story, think again. March 6 and 7, the Free Library welcomes Pure Expression’s Frankenstein, a unique audio/tactile way to experience Victor Frankenstein's adventures in steampunk bioengineering. Rather than read a text, visitors will wear headphones and listen to an actor performing the novel's text as a first-person monologue. While they listen, they are free to peruse an assortment of authentic Victorian artifacts—daguerrotypes, a silver hand mirror, baby shoes—that give a poignant richness to the events of the tale. The text of the book becomes a confession, and holding tangible artifacts makes the listener into a forensic investigator, turning the biography of a superhuman creation into an all-too human confession of guilt.
The London-based creators debuted this experience as part of last year's bicentennial celebration of Frankenstein at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and now we're lucky it has jumped the pond for our enjoyment. If you'd like to reserve a free ticket for any of the seatings between noon and 5:00 p.m. on March 6 and 7 (each experience lasts 30 minutes and a new one begins every 10 minutes), please sign up at this Eventbrite link. Because of the fragile nature of the authentic artifacts, we request that guests be 12 years old and over.