The Elephant Man tells the story of Joseph Merrick, a grossly deformed English man who was taken in by the Royal London Hospital from 1884 to his death in 1890. Dr. Frederick Treves, a young surgeon at the Hospital first saw Merrick as he was being exhibited as part of a side-show near the hospital. He examined Merrick and persuaded the Hospital to allow him to stay on, despite the fact that his disorder was deemed incurable. In this way, Merrick not only was given his first real "home", but was also introduced to and ultimately embraced by English society. The play, by Bernard Pomerance, portrays Merrick's life while in the protective cocoon of the Hospital, and examines how he affected all who knew him.
Similar to the movie by the same name, Merrick’s experience after coming to the hospital and being “accepted” by the upper class is explored. The movie, however, is much more a complete biographic account, while the play is more a collection of key scenes in Merrick’s story, at many times more surreal than realistic.
The play ends with Merrick’s death after having completed his model of St. Phillip’s church.
Staging the production at The Mütter Museum, the museum of medical oddities, underscored the horrific and tragic nature of his disorder. At the same time, by portraying the humanity and gentleness of the man under those physical deformities, our hope was to restore that same humanity to the people who have become part of the Mütter's collection.
John Merrick- Patrick Curley
Frederick Treves - Corey Rieger
Mrs. Kendal - Gwendoyn Morton
F.C. Carr Gomm - Pat Conner
Bishop How - Robert O'Toole
Ross/Porter - Rich Venezia
Miss Sandwich/Princess Alexandra - Joanna Lowe
Policeman/Sir John - Andrew Huntley II
Preview performances of The Elephant Man were also presented at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre April 1~9, 2011. At these shows, preshow entertainment was provided by Stephanie Bercht, Laura Lantz and O'Ryan McGowen.
Support for The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man at the Mütter Museum was also a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, which allowed donations on behalf of the show to be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The following individuals gave their generous support of the production:
Glenn and Lois Jourdan
Bill and Ruth Ann Molloy
John and Elaine McMahon