The production of The Elephant Man was absolutely breathtaking. It could be easily inferred that everyone involved put their very heart and souls into bringing this play to life. It truly was a phenomenon, probably never to be replicated ever again. No matter how many weekends the show continues. Indeed, going into the play, I was curious in regards to several aspects, most revolving around how they would portray Merrick. Be that as it may, the actors were able to gather up all my mundane interpretations and weave them into a masterpiece beyond my wildest imagination.
2. The presentation of the Elephant man certainly was surprising to say the least. The play started off in a more straightforward and to the point manner than in the scripted version. First off was the the carnival scene accompanied by fair music. In my opinion, it was quite interesting to see how they added extra actors just mulling about the carnival instead of simply having Ross speak to the audience. This added feature definitely helped the audience feel as if it were truly a carnival where Ross was showing off Merrick for the sake of money.
Essentially, this really set the mood and undertone of the play. One of the most stunning moments that could not have been pictured in my mind by reading the play was when Treves was telling everyone everything Merrick suffered from. First, they positioned the actor playing Merrick in the center of the stage. Then as the doctor started naming all the ailments, the actor proceeded to contort his body to accommodate for that. For instance, when Treves stated that Merrick had a deformed back and hips, the actor responded by reshaping his body to fit that illustration.
Honestly I admire how he was able to keep up that dynamic until his brilliantly concocted death moment. From there on out, the play ran smoothly. Apparently there was some humor embedded within the lines that I did not grasp, but the rest of the audience laughed every now and then. Sadly, I was not pulled fully into that “willing suspension of disbelief that performers attempt to exert onto the audie But perhaps that faulted more to my situation and mindset than the actors. Be that as it may, one big thing that stood out, in my opinion, was that they did not include Treves dreamin scene in the written play. Moreover, they did not enact the scenes where Treves dreamed that he switched places, in a sense, with Merrick.
3. Tam compelled to concur that the production of Elephant Man did a pretty decent job at displaying most of the overall themes scattered throughout the written work. One of the first themes that comes to mind was gender roles. The most prominent example of this was when Treves walked on stage and balked at Mrs. Kendal half dressed in front of Merrick. He proceeds to lecture her that what she did was unacceptable and that she should be ashamed of herself.
Despite the social implications of her decisive actions, all Kendal set out to do was help out a friend. Yes, although it started out like a job, Merrick slowly became her friend. Another theme that was laid bare to the audience was the concept of death. Obviously, Merrick was the prime specimen of this ideal. Now, I am unsure whether or not he knew that he would not live a long life. Nonetheless, he did not let his impending doom stifle his outlook on living. After he gained his freedom, he tried to make the most of his new found life. He truly did not let his disability interfere with him interacting with is surroundings.
4. The most stunning presentation of the play all centered around the actor who portrayed John Merrick. For one, the other actors really did a good job in the beginning at treating Merrick like an animal. They practically forced him to scamper around on the ground like a frightened monkey. Not to mention, the actor acting as Merrick did a great job at making animatistic sounds that fit Ross’s narrative. Practically being that Merrick was just an animal to be put on display. He did not even bother to view Merrick as god forbid, a human being with feeling so long as he made him money.
One aspect that struck me, was when Merrick enacted his death scene. It was more striking and vivid than anything | could have pictured by just reading the play. One could see how Merrick was basically suffocated to death by the weight of his head. The play makes the ordeal feel nearly peaceful; whereas in the performance, it was anything but. The audience could see clear as day how Merrick choked on the weight of his head. Every detail in conjunction to that was laid bare. The jerking of his body, his harsh, strained breathing and just his overall struggle were the most striking.
Another aspect that was added was when Nurse Sandwich was looking through pictures of Merrick. She believed that in doing so, it would help prepare herself for meeting him. Those pictures were display up on the curtain or screen for the audience to see. However, she basically bolted as fast as she could out of the room at the first, physical sight of him. She just took one look at his grotesque features and couldn’t handle bothering to stick around for him to reveal the beautiful man under the ugly mask. That in itself, could be in correspondence to the theme, “never judge a book by its cover.
5. The performers costumes were exquisite. To the best of my knowledge, they represented the correct era in which the play was set. The women’s gowns were gorgeous and enable the actress to move freely across the stage. One instance in where the costume really was tied into the plotline, was when Mrs. Kendal was required to undress. Now, I originally inferred from the written play that the actress would have to shed her entire outfit. However, in the performance, they made it so that the actress gave the illusion that she just revealed some of her top half to Merrick.
The transitions were smooth and did not hinder the performers at all. Another detailed noted was that sometimes the transitions were done with, and without music. In either instance, it served its purpose: to swiftly and efficiently transfer from one scene to another. The only thing that puzzled me slightly was when sometimes the actors or stagehands wo pull the curtain only halfway across the stage. I was unsure of whether they meant to leave it in that fashion, or if they just forgot to pull it all the way across. In notion with that, the lighting was spot on.
Moreover, they illuminated what required to be in the spotlight at any given time in the play. On the flip side, they dimmed and darkened in an appropriate manner as well. Probably the most spectacular display of how the lights can contribute to the aura of the play, was when Merrick died. The lights faded, leaving only streaking halos of white light spanning over his bed, over his “dead” body. Perhaps in doing so, the director(s) wished to give the impression of peaceful, heavenly aura, within the space. If that was the case, it was accomplished to the highest degree.
The sound effects, which incorporates both of the elements mentioned above were nearly flawless. The performers could be heard perfectly even from all the way in the back of the room. Now those are some good acoustics, especially since | absolutely despise when I cannot hear what a person is saying that could be relevant to the scene. One instance in where the sound caused a chilling effect on the audience was where Merrick was telling Treves about how in the workhouse they beat one like a drum. When he mimicked the beating of a drum, the sound reverted throughout the area.
6. In regards to this question, i am a little perplexed by what this truly is asking me to reveal about the play. Nonetheless, I do believe that this play was effective in roping the audience into the storyline. During various segments, laughter twinkled about the room. Also, this play was probably effective in making the audience see a person who is different in a new light. Beneath whatever disability or disease, there is still a soul that deserves love and compassion. Just like the Merrick, despite his outward appearance, he was blessed with a kind heart. If only people took the time to let him reveal it.
7. Without a doubt, the production’s interpretation of the play definitely enriched my initial understanding. At first, I only weakly grasped the central ideals bound within the calligraphy. In light of this, I believe that the chopped up nature of the inked play was what lead to my diminished comprehension of the Elephant Man. Nevertheless, the staged production was done in such a concise and easy to follow apparatus, that any perplexity pertaining to the play was washed away. Plus, watching something, seeing it right in front of one’s eyes, adds an entirely new perspective and insight on the element.