Before you read anything further, know that currently all of the remaining shows of this run have officially sold out!
Regardless, I will continue to sing its praises because the show deserves it, the artists involved in the production deserve it and the wonderful theatre company that produced this show deserves it. STAGEright rocks my socks off.
Although I had never before seen The Elephant Man, neither film version nor theatrical production, I had heard all about it. Truthfully, I had never had the emotional courage to see it by myself so I am incredibly glad that I waited and even more glad that I brought a date. This show will pull at your heartstrings. If you have never seen this show before, this is the perfect way to be introduced to Bernard Pomerance’s beautifully flawed, spiritually and scientifically tormented characters. The reasons you should see this show are simple, the performances will leave you breathless and the characters, sound and set will live in your brain for days after. The ensemble on the whole is top notch, but the performances that stood out for me were those of John Merrick and his guardian Frederick Treves.
Matthew Gilbert eloquently and quite frankly, painfully, brings John Merrick to life before your eyes. John Merrick is supposed to be grotesque, fearsome and yet all we see from the audience is a “dangerously human” man who just wants to be respected, heard and safe. Gilbert’s is a performance I will be referring to when I talk to actors about commitment to a character and, believe it, diction. His ability to dictate each and every line, out of only one side of his mouth, for the entirety of the show, was mesmerizing. Sometimes, its the little things that make a performance like this truly great. Seriously, Bravo.
Frederick Treves, John’s eventual guardian and surgeon, was played with incendiary grace and temperament by Brian Lange. Treves tries with all of his power and self, to give John a happy life and a safe home, free from any humiliation and fear. Gilbert and Lange together on stage is like watching a well timed tennis match between to champions. Again, I am not surprised this show is nearly sold out.The set is also a sight to be seen, it is intricate, simple and at times astonishing. Set Designer and Artistic Director Brendan Mack made excellent use of the smallish space at Inscape and the show flows perfectly because of it.
The relief felt at the end of an emotional theatrical experience is unlike anything else in the world. This show is one where that relief is felt collectively, you can feel the performers, musicians, technicians and every single audience member, breathe a sigh of release. It is an astounding feeling. Thank you STAGEright, for this brave and beautiful show, you are off to a great start this season and I can’t wait for the next show!