Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Review: The Elephant Man at the Theatre Royal Haymarket starring Bradley Cooper

The Elephant Man 
Theatre Royal Haymarket 
Reviewed on Monday 1st June 2015

Fresh from its Broadway run, Scott Ellis’ production of The Elephant Man has transferred to the West End with Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper reprising his portrayal of deformed character John Merrick.

Based on real-life person Joseph Merrick, Bernard Pomerance's play offers the chance for its leading man to flex some serious acting muscles - an opportunity Cooper grasps with both hands, his performance is hugely commendable. There are no special effects; it is down to Cooper's physicality alone to represent the grotesque character. 

At first there was an awkwardness in the theatre as Cooper took to the stage in only a pair of shorts; we see John being treated with cruelty which is hard to watch. However, surgeon Frederick Treves (Alessandro Nivola) takes John under his wing, taking him to a hospital where he promises to rehabilitate him.

It is here John builds a unique friendship with successful actress Mrs Kendal (Patricia Clarkson), the pair soon discover they have more in common than some might think.

The play follows John's life right through to the end; the story may be harrowing, yet Cooper brings warmth and compassion with his remarkable performance. He is the best thing about the production, I have been left itching to see him take on a contrasting theatrical role in London. 

Many have been criticising Pomerance's play; some scenes are stronger than others, but there is a nice dabbling of humour and the injection of humanity certainly pulls at the heartstrings. 

Cooper gives an exceptional performance in a good play.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Elephant Man runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 8th August 2015.
Please visit www.trh.co.uk for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

1 comment:

  1. I saw this wonderful production on Broadway and thoroughly agree. Mr. Cooper gives a heartfelt performance, and the whole cast is excellent. They do honor to the courageous Merrick. To read more about the real Joseph Merrick, there's a bio on Amazon.com.uk called "Measured by the Soul: The Life of Joseph Carey Merrick."