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The Elephant Man

a Historical Drama
by Bernard Pomerance

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4676

SHOWING : January 30, 2015 - February 14, 2015



The play about the life of John Merrick, a horribly deformed young man with a dream of becoming a man just like any other.

Director Russ D. Ivey
John Merrick Jack Allison
Carr Gomm, Belgian Policeman 1 Brian Bascle
Pinhead Manager, Will Porter, Lord John, Joel Coady
Ross, Bishop How Jim Dailey
Mrs. Kendall, Pinhead #2, Countess Brandy Hoofnagle
Dr. Frederick Treves R. Clay Johnson
Nurse Sandwich, Pinhead #1, Dutchess, Pr Lindsay Sparks
Conductor, Snork, Man Calvin Wickham
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


The Play’s the Thing
by playgoer
Sunday, February 1, 2015
I don’t care for "The Elephant Man" as a play. It’s made up of a number of relatively short scenes, with momentum needing to start practically from zero in each one. I find the show more of a slow slog than an energizing piece of theatre.

That having been said, Act3’s production serves the play well. The minimal set designed by Theresa Dean supports the multiple locations, and Tim Roberts’ lighting design fluidly accompanies action moving from one spot to another. The costumes designed by Brad Dickey give a real feel for the Victorian time period of the play, and the props "managed" by Mary Sorrel and Taylor Sorrel do do all they need to do.

Sound design, by director Russ Ivey, supplies appropriate musical interludes that sometimes go on too long. With the accents being used in the show and the contortions of the star’s mouth, it’s easy enough to miss a word here or there even without the competition of background music. Projections are also a bit off in terms of focus, harming the clarity of the projection design.

Acting is good, if not great. Russ Ivey’s Merrick in Rosewater’s production several years ago was magnificent. In this production, Jack Allison does amazing physical contortions for the character, but there’s not enough expressiveness in his eyes to make the inner character of the Elephant Man come through. It doesn’t help that the blocking by Russ Ivey (now the director in this production) usually puts the open side of Mr. Allison’s contorted mouth upstage.

Aside from the two leads (Mr. Allison as Merrick and R. Clay Johnson as Dr. Treves), everyone is double-cast (or more). In the intimate venue, this can be a detriment to the overall show. In particular, Brandi Hoofnagle’s multiple roles, starting with a wonderful turn as a pinhead, detract from her performance as Mrs. Kendall. It’s a very good performance, but the status of Mrs. Kendall as a famous actress of her day is negated by Ms. Hoofnagle appearing in a variety of costumes, sometimes as Mrs. Kendall and sometimes as another character. The actors do a generally good job of distinguishing their different characters, although Joel Coady seems to bring the same sort of sly sensibility to each of his characters.

The leads need to carry the show, and Messrs. Allison and Johnson do that. Each inhabits his character fully, but there’s not a huge amount of charisma emanating from the stage. There’s a coolness about the production that the emotions of the leads can’t quite heat up sufficiently. The ending of the first act works wonderfully, as Mrs. Kendall discovers the complete humanity of Merrick, but that’s the highlight of the show. The lives of Merrick and Dr. Treves don’t seem to intertwine in an emotionally satisfying way. Let’s hope that things jell and improve during the run. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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