The 1980 film of The Elephant Man starred Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt and became a huge success with eight Oscar nominations after its release.
Ahead of this summers Broadway transfer of the show starring Bradley Cooper, a small, intimate production has been brought to South London’s Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. And they have done a great job with it. Fringe theatre is sometimes hit and miss. Limited with space and budget, you have to be creative with your set and costumes and this production pulls it off well with simplicity as the key. With just a man sized cage on stage, the set is simple and the powerful script is all that is needed to tell the story.
Joseph Merrick was a man with a disfigurement. So ugly and so bizarre that he was carted around in a freak show with people paying to see the frightful sight of him. When word got around that the freak show was in town, Doctor Frederick Treves went along to check out the creature and paid his keeper to borrow him to run medical tests to discover what was wrong with him. The story sees Joseph Merrick’s growth as a human, learning to speak and live as normal a life as he possibly can.
The four actors in this play pull together well as a team and whilst the Elephant Man is the central character, the rest of the cast appear no less important. Daniel Chrisostomou is hauntingly engaging as Joseph Merrick, playing the animal like creature with sensitivity and charm. Adam Trussell plays Josephs keeper and several other characters well and helps to bring focus to the piece (although his accents were at times, questionable). Scott McGarrick is good as the doctor Frederick Treves and Ami Sayers and Katie Turner help add some femininity in the several roles they each take on.
The Elephant Man is 90 minutes without an interval and the time flew by. It is a great production and I highly recommend going along to check it out while it’s on.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
The Elephant Man is playing at the Brockley Jack Theatre until 21 February 2015. Click here to book tickets.