Anna & Joe review The Elephant Man

This week at The Courtyard Anna Ricks and Joe Lowen-Grey are here doing their work experience. Lucky for them we had theatre company, Fourth Monkey Ensemble here to perform The Elephant Man in our Studio Theatre. They’ve each reviewed the performance (which was pretty amazing by the sounds of it) so check out what they thought…

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Anna’s Review

Amazing. The production of The Elephant Man was truly amazing. A small cast of 5 actors with minimal set made the absolute most of what they had and created a powerful and thought provoking performance.

Although the story is quite famous, I had not heard of it before and had little idea of the plot. But one thing’s for sure, I could watch the play a thousand times and interpret it in a different way. The ending was an extremely powerful piece of theatre that was without a doubt the most captivating moment I have ever witnessed leaving everything to the audience’s imagination. The plot surrounded a young man (Joseph Merrick) born with a congenital disorder. Joseph’s disfigurations earned him the name of ‘Elephant Man’. I won’t spoil the storyline but I can say that the way it is executed is innovative and original.

The set consisted of the bare minimum. A frame of a box with curtains was the main focus at most points, being used as almost anything from a horse and carriage to a cage to a screen to have projections on. And of course the technical side was brilliant-the lighting created the perfect atmosphere along with haze machines and projections throughout. The projections delicately creating scenery without obstructing the performers or set.

I can honestly say that the acting left me speechless. The fact that most individuals played multiple roles astounded me. Their characterisation was breathtaking and unquestionably realistic, almost as though I had travelled back in time and conferring with a group of Victorians. Daniel Chrisostomou who played the Elephant Man was phenomenal (in fact that’s an understatement), I can’t think of a word that can give him the full credit he deserves because it truly was magnificent.

All in all, the whole experience of watching the elephant man was incredible and I would recommend anyone (and I mean anyone) over the age of 14 to go and see it because frankly if you don’t you’re missing out.

I couldn’t fault it so I would give it a strong 10/10

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Joe’s Review

To say that this production astounded me would be an understatement. When first entering the theatre an aura of mystery surrounded The Elephant Man. Having heard little about it other than its title and having only a very basic knowledge of the events the show is based upon, I had no idea what to expect.

The Elephant Man centres around the life of Joseph Merrick, a Victorian man born with bodily disfigurements which gained him the stage name of ‘Elephant Man’ when being shown to horrified crowds in a London freak show. Joseph is found by a doctor who wishes to help him and the play follows Joseph’s development from this point.

I would struggle to classify The Elephant Man into a specific genre however I would refer to it simply as ‘drama’ if I had to at all. With moments of despair mingling with moments of pure joy the show takes you to a vast array of emotional ‘places’.

The performances of every actor were sensational however praise must go to Daniel Chrisostomou most of all for his portrayal of Joseph Merrick which exceeded any expectation I had. Wire and chain mail were used to shape Joseph’s disfigurements, a clever idea as this left Daniel’s face visible allowing him to give a full performance when combined with his incredibly impressive movements and voice work.

The set was simple, composed mainly of a large metal box with faces made of a thin white fabric which could be opened and closed like curtains. This metal box proved itself to be just as versatile as the actors on stage when forming the centrepiece of every scene in the production.

My overall thoughts would be that The Elephant Man is a play designed to challenge its audience as well as entertain. I would recommend it highly to anybody over 16 mostly due the subject matter.

I give The Elephant Man a 9/10

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