When: Aug. 18-20, 8 p.m. 2016
Nick Otten's play Mary Shelley Monster Show originates in one straightforward question: Was the novel Frankenstein an autobiography? Like many simple questions, it's not easy to answer. Shelley's father was a liberal political philosopher who raised her to think freely. That free-thinking spirit allowed her to embark on a whirlwind romantic tour with one of dad's cronies, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Their tour included Mary's stepsister but not Percy's wife, oddly enough. Upon their return to England, all three were ostracized for their scandalous behavior and the suicide of the original Mrs. Shelley. Mary and Percy subsequently married, but three of their four children would die before age five. After Percy's early death, Mary devoted herself to raising their surviving son and churning out novels for money. The author and the monster at the heart of her most famous novel (who could both speak and write eloquently, despite what you see in the films) certainly shared a peripatetic lifestyle, and both knew the feeling of being hounded. Both, too, experienced suffering. Otten has a compelling argument at any rate. Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble opens its tenth season with Mary Shelley Monster Show. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (August 18 to 20) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; www.slightlyoff.org). Tickets are $10.