Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption; or the Fate of Frankenstein was the first dramatisation of Mary Shelley’s famous novel. It played at London’s English Opera House in 1823. Mary and her father, William Godwin, saw the play in August that year, and it seems they quite enjoyed it. Peake mixed melodrama, spectacular stage effects and music, and he introduced lines often thought to have been written by Mary Shelley, including ‘It lives!’ Renewed interest in the novel followed – so much so that Godwin took advantage by reprinting it in a fine new edition.
This rehearsed reading of Presumption, with musical and visual effects, brings to life a play that thrilled, terrified and amused early Frankenstein enthusiasts and sceptics alike.—