You have one week more to get to see Fourth Monkey’s superb production of Elephant Man at the atmospheric little theatre behind the Brockley Jack pub – and atmospheric is no exaggeration. From the moment the doors open and you search for a seat immersed by the fog of late Victorian London, you will be gripped by the tightness of the script, the minimalist but symbolic scenery and the brilliance of the acting.
As the play’s writer, Steve Green, acknowledges in his programme notes, much has been written about Joseph Merrick and the main protagonists in his story – Frederick Treves, the surgeon, and Tom Norman, the freak-show owner. But this is a powerful exposition of the moral tangle they were all caught up in – of which Merrick was for so long a victim.
The characterisation and ingenious sculpting and dressing of Merrick are particularly distinctive – and Daniel Chrisostomou is outstanding as he suffers the burden of the part, turning from the outcast into a loveable human being. And the symbolism of the last scene was not lost on me as he throws off his shackles, the imprisonment of his disfigurement.
A must-see – and especially as I gather the Broadway version opening in London in May has a different take on the story.
Elephant Man is at the Brockley Jack until 21st February. Further dates in Canterbury, Wolverhampton, Hereford, Dorchester and Bridport. More info…