Review “Mary’s Little Monster” at Torn Page
by MAX BERRY
Creating an immersive experience within the house of Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, “Mary’s Little Monster”, presented by spit&vigor and written by Thomas Kee, tells the story of the famous gathering of writers, Mary Shelley, John Polidori, Claire Claremont, Percy Shelley, and George Lord Byron, as they spend the night in Lord Byron’s home and embark on a competition to see who came write the greatest horror story. Kee, along with direction by Sara Fellini, create a fascinating and engaging immersive look into the lives of these writers and what led Mary Shelley to write one of the most famous novels in history.
The performances will all around fantastic. Two particular shout outs must be given to Sara Fellini as Mary Shelley and Nicholas Thomas as Lord Byron. Both actors soaked up every scene they were in and instantly drew your eye, even when they were merely observing the events taking place. Thomas entered as Byron moments before the show began, sitting in one of the chairs within audience seating, and without saying a word, just sitting, he had everyone in the room interested in what he was going to do next. Fellini portrayed Shelley with a fire and passion, even when she found herself feeling lost or confused. She commanded the stage and in those moments of confusion, I still believed Shelley was the smartest in the room. Another stand-out acting moment was when John Polidori (Adam Belvo) recounted the story of the Vampire. Belvo told the story with an enthusiasm and wonder that made it impossible to look away, really giving us a taste of a writer, like Polidori, sharing their ideas for the first time.
The five actors all worked off of each other beautifully. When it came to their characters, everyone was given time to shine, no one got lost in the ensemble of the group. Playwright, Thomas Kee, balanced all of the characters very well. It would have been so easy to fall into the trap of powerhouse presences like Mary and Lord Byron taking over the show, but Kee makes sure to give each character equal love, which allows for the five to work so well as a unit.
The immersive space was very effective in bringing us into Lord Byron’s house and allowing us to watch the events in a much more intimate way, sometimes right next to us. Though, at times the way the space was used, with little transitions or changes to it, made it hard to discern how much time has passed between scenes. Similarly, some of the relationships were a little hard to track it times. It was very clear that there was strong attraction amongst all of the characters for each other, but the varying levels of that attraction was sometimes unclear. Though, this didn’t take away from the overall experience because often those attractions were simply obstacles for much greater challenges within the characters, particularly Mary, as they struggled to gain inspiration, confidence, and emotional understanding, to write. The relationship between Mary and Percy and how that is used in regards to their writing was particularly fascinating.
“Mary’s Little Monster” was a engaging, well-acted, and fascinating look into a pivotal moment in these writers lives that I very much enjoyed. I look forward to more from Thomas Kee and spit&vigor in the future.
“Mary’s Little Monster” was written by Thomas Kee and directed by Sara Fellini.
It features: Sara Fellini, Adam Belvo, Xandra Leigh Parker, Nicholas Thomas, and Perri Yaniv.
Featuring lighting design by Chelsie McPhimily and costumes and props design by Sara Felini.
It was presented by spit&vigor at Torn Page (435 West 22nd St, New York, NY 10011)