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Newbury Dramatic Society

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Review of Percy Shelley

17th to 22nd April 2023

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Dramatisation of the life of Shelley, poet, atheist, vegetarian, serial seducer and revolutionary

Not so much a play, more a treatment or an extended sketch, this life of Shelley was reduced to bare essentials by Newbury Dramatic Society. Written and directed by Ann Davidson the visual tableaux presented at Enborne Church were often quite striking.

This was achieved by good costumes and the actors’ positioning and facial expressions, often saying more than words would have done. Members of the cast took turns to act as narrators to move the story forward and then played various parts in the short sketches.

We saw brief scenes of Shelley with his first wife Harriet who was to take her own life later, drowning in the Serpentine in Hyde Park in a state of despair. Mary Godwin, his second wife, was played by Ros Kitson, who also doubled as Harriet’s sister Eliza (which made it a little confusing). She conveyed Mary’s frustration and pain well though.

Gareth Croft looked and sounded right as Shelley, the atheist, revolutionary and, at the time, unsuccessful poet, with most of his work unpublished. Selections of his writings were well chosen.

A brief scene of Shelley, Mary, Steven Schollar as Lord Byron and Lucinda Lane as Claire staying at Lake Geneva was well acted, but would maybe have benefited from more dialogue. It was this event where the four told each other ghost and horror stories with Mary’s contribution being Frankenstein.

Given the loss of her baby and precarious existence with Shelley, it is no surprise that her imagination led her to the creation of such a creature. An expansion of this scene in this treatment might have been illuminating.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet, atheist, vegetarian, serial seducer and revolutionary attracted little except anger and frustration in his brief lifetime and produced nothing acceptable except fathering many children, many of which did not survive infancy.

However, following his drowning in Italy in 1822, at the age of 29, he gradually came to be recognised as one of the greatest English Romantic poets, influencing many including Robert Browning, WB Yeats, Thomas Hardy and Charles Swinburne.

This was a well acted, brief glance at his life.


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NDS is the oldest established amateur theatre group in the Newbury area. Current membership is around 45, and we stage a variety of shows each year in local venues, and also enter regional drama festivals. Between rehearsals we have an active social calendar - events planned include bowling, a car treasure hunt and group outings to other theatres.

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If you are interested in joining us in any capacity - whether as an actor, director, stage manager, backstage helper or programme seller - get in touch for details! Contact Ann Davidson at .