Georgia Tatò for Monstrous Bodies
Let’s jump straight into the deep end. It is 1812 and a young Mary Shelley is going through the most traumatic and life changing event that she will quite possibly ever have to face in her whole entire lifetime...Mary is having her first period.
Now, as she is prescribed a strong dose of opium to “dull the pain” and her world quite literally starts to spin - it’s hard not to believe that surely this is the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman and especially a young girl of Mary’s age. However, I think it is quite safe to say that 50% of the population would like to tell Mary that it is okay, everything will be fine and that she is by far not the only one going through this “trauma” – we all do at some point. But in 1812, things are different. With no cosy hot water bottles, no soothing paracetamol and no real knowledge of what is going on, this over-exaggerated, stylised and traumatic way of portraying a girl’s first period is quite possibly not very far off what young Mary would actually be feeling.
“So pretty, so pretty, so pretty...” as this dangerous mantra echoes around her mind like dandelion seeds in the wind, planting themselves into her brain and slowly contaminating the positive image she has of her own body, we see Mary, like a puppet on a string, being changed before our eyes –thinner and prettier, prettier and thinner – because pain is beauty, right?
This important moment in the play lets us reflect on how much (or how little) has really changed between 1812 and 2017. Girls are still being force fed the recipe to beauty from a young age, told that being pretty is the most important thing a girl must strive to be. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter – look anywhere and it won’t be long until you find the newest weight-losing diets and pills (and diets consisting of just pills) being advertised to an audience who, just like Mary, are young, impressionable and going through major physical and emotional changes in their lives.
This is the world that we live in, the one that ‘Monstrous Bodies’ explores.
Written by Georgia Tatò - Assistant Assistant Director for Monstrous Bodies
Monstrous Bodies April 19th - May 6th at Dundee Rep Theatre