In October 2008 Melting Pot staged Howard Brenton's Bloody Poetry
Bloody Poetry tells the story of Percy Bysshe Shelley's trip across Europe with Mary Shelley to Switzerland and Italy, where they visit fellow poet in exile, Lord Byron. They are accompanied by Claire Clairemont, lover of Shelley, some time lover of Byron and mother of his daughter. With Byron is Dr William Polidori, would-be biographer of both Byron and Shelley.

1816 - the trip that defined the romantic life lived through art, and provided the occasion for Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.

The self-styled 'band of atheistical perverts' are looking for art, love and pleasure, but life and death both intrude on the idyll. The summer of love is short-lived - beauty and happinesss giving way to pain, separation and grief.

'Summer and hard light, and mountains in the sky again!' - Claire Clairemont

'I met murder on the way, it had a face like Castlereagh' - Shelley, in response to the Peterloo massacre

Shelley (Paul Merrell) reads Wordsworth as he awaits his companions for an evening of poetry, philosophy and love at their villa on the edge of the Italian alps, and below, he is joined by Mary Shelley (Sarah Gordon)

Below, rehearsal photos from the production

Rehearsing Brenton's Bloody Poetry - Above: Sarah Gordon as Mary Shelley, Paul Merrell as Shelley, Rachel le Sauvage as Claire Clairemont
Below: Paul Merrell, Sarah Gordon and Rachel le Sauvage with Amanda Bonnick as Harriet Westbrook, Shelley's first wife

Below: the cast of Melting Pot's Bloody Poetry

Top, left to right: Matthew Brockington as Lord Byron, Paul Merrell as Shelley, John O'Mahoney as Dr William Polidori. Bottom, Rachel le Sauvage (Claire Clairemont), Amanda Bonnick (Harriet Westbrook), Sarah Gordon (Mary Shelley)

What they said:

'The portrayal of Shelley the idealist was nicely counterbalanced by the superb portrayal of Byron as a decadent, debauched and cynical figure, without descending into the grotesque. It was a finely judged performance with great power....

Ultimately what has stayed in my memory is a mixture of powerful performances and funny, literate wordplay… the credit needs to go to Amanda Bonnick for superb direction’

'You and your team should be very proud of what you have achieved with a challenging piece of writing. A great success and you deserve your audiences who I hope have enjoyed it as much as we all did. I was impressed by the acting abilities of all the cast, and I thought you brought out excellent performances from all of them. The staging, sound and all round direction were first rate. As good a production as I have seen in a long time.’

Photos (c) copyright Matthew Brockington & Melting Pot Theatre Company except cast photo by Howard Brooksbank

Sound designer was Nick Marston, lighting design was by Tim Brockington, sound & light operation by Nick Marston, Tim Brockington and Howard Brooksbank. The stage manager was Katherine Jones. The production was designed and directed by Amanda Bonnick. For full cast and crew details see under past productions archive