Dundee’s Frankenstein Connection Resurrected by Rock Show
Dundee’s connection with Frankenstein will be resurrected by a spectacular, multi-sensory rock concert heading to the city.
With stunning visual effects and a custom-made light show, The Science Fiction Experience will see an eight-piece professional rock band perform a variety of songs at Gardyne Theatre on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 April 2023. Produced by science writer David Darling, author of 50 books published in over 20 countries, the show will take the audience on a journey through the cosmos with eighteen distinct pieces of music themed around science and science fiction with a backdrop of theatre and drama.
The combination of originals and covers will include a highly dramatic piece, written by David Darling and based on one of the world’s most enduring works of Gothic fiction, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley subsequent to her time living in Dundee between 1812 and 1814.
The track, which adds depth to the portfolio of material, will be complemented by dramatic video footage and narrative provided by The Mary Shelley Heritage Trust (Dundee). The Trust will also host a pop-up exhibition in the foyer of the Gardyne Theatre on the opening night of the show on Friday 14 April, offering a glimpse of material relating to the author of Frankenstein.
The show coincides with the 200th anniversary of the second English edition of the iconic novel, the first edition published in the UK to attribute Mary Shelley as the author. The 1823 edition was published as a result of the popularity of the stage adaptation ‘Presumption: or, The Fate of Frankenstein’ by Richard Brinsley Peake with Thomas Potter Cooke appearing as the monster.
David said, “With The Science Fiction Experience making its debut in Dundee, we were keen to give a nod to one of the city’s strongest and most compelling historical connections.
“After re-reading the novel to refresh my imagination, I built the song around it, creating a powerful, menacing, almost intimidating song that would create a heavy, unsettling atmosphere, leaving the audience on edge, just like the book. It’s a doom-laden track with some serious shredding in the intro, which then leads into the story through the lyrics. We always wanted to immerse the audience and wider city in an experience, not just host a concert, and to really celebrate the interface between music, science and literature. Frankenstein allows us to do that and to reignite this captivating local connection in the process.”
Dr Daniel Cook, Reader in English Literature and Associate Dean at the University of Dundee, as well as Chair of The Mary Shelley Heritage Trust (Dundee), added, “Frankenstein is arguably the most impactful novel ever written. Think of the many movie and theatre adaptations, comics and cartoons, and even cereals, candies and fancy dress costumes, let alone the fact it has become a reference point for scientists, politicians and countless others.
“The Science Fiction Experience brings this rich material back to life through heavy metal – a perfect blend, when we consider the hauntingly beautiful nature of the Creation scene. This new collaboration also brings Frankenstein home, to Dundee and the surrounding areas that inspired a young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Shelley).”
Frankenstein will sit alongside the wider collection of songs which range in style from prog-rock to classical. From The Blue Danube and Rocket Man to the theme from Startrek Enterprise, plus originals such as When Worlds Collide and Princess of Mars, the concert will be further enhanced by dancers, a choir, a vast video wall featuring custom-made footage and spectacular sound and visual effects.
After its Dundee debut, the show is expected to move on to various larger Scottish venues and, ultimately, tour across the UK.
Shelley’s tale of Victor Frankenstein, who created a destructive monster from parts of corpses, has become one of the most influential novels of the past 200 years. Shelley (1797-1851) who began writing Frankenstein at the age of 18, credited the two years she spent living in Dundee’s South Baffin Street as a young teenager after her father sent her to live with the wealthy jute baron Baxter family with helping her form her passion of writing. She wrote that the “airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered” throughout her time in the city. “The Cottage” in Dundee’s Ferry Road where she lived is mentioned within the text.
For more information about The Mary Shelley Heritage Trust (Dundee), visit https://www.facebook.com/maryshelleysdundee/
NOTE TO EDITORS
David was born in Derbyshire but moved to Dundee 18 years ago with his American wife. He has a PhD in astronomy from Manchester University and worked for several years in the United States before returning to the UK as a full-time science writer in the 1980s. He has lectured widely around the world and written dozens of books on subjects from cosmology to life in the universe. His first music album, Songs of the Cosmos, came out in 2014.
The Mary Shelley Heritage Trust (Dundee)
Established in 2021, The Mary Shelley Heritage Trust (Dundee) has four main aims. First, to raise awareness about the author’s connections with Dundee and the surrounding area. Second, to connect Dundee with other sites of interest for Shelley scholars, in the UK, Europe and beyond. Third, to uncover more information about her life here, and her subsequent connections with our citizens. And fourth, to support local artists and writers inspired by Shelley’s life and writing, particularly young women.