I Want Candy (2007) .... Sam
"Dalziel and Pascoe" .... Sammy Hogarth (2 episodes, 2006) - Fallen Angel: Part 2 (2006) TV Episode .... Sammy Hogarth - Fallen Angel: Part 1 (2006) TV Episode .... Sammy Hogarth
Cashback (2006) .... Brian
The Queen of Sheba's Pearls (2004) .... Dinger Bell
Secret Passage (2004) .... Andrea Zane
Calendar Girls (2003) .... Gaz
Sleepy Hollow (1999) .... Young Masbath
From The Times
April 10, 2007
The Elephant Man
Sam Marlowe at the Trafalgar Studios, SW1
Though later overshadowed by David Lynch’s celebrated film based on the same true story, Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 play was a huge hit, particularly on Broadway, where it won three Tonys. It remains involving, largely because its title character, the deformed Joseph “John” Merrick, provokes the same kind of response in a modern audience as he did among Victorians: a combination of fascinated horror and pity.
That probably says more about human nature than about Pomerance’s writing. But the playwright goes beyond the cliché of a beautiful soul trapped in a misshapen body to present further interesting dualities: like Peter Shaffer’s Equus, his play explores the doctor-patient relationship, as well as the tensions between society and the individual, morality and compassion, art and science. The results are episodic, at times schematic and dramatically often static — a problem Bruce Guthrie’s production, somewhat clumsily designed by Natalie Powell, doesn’t solve. But Marc Pickering’s riveting Merrick engages, and frequently moves, throughout.
Merrick’s deformity is represented by means of the actor’s physicality. Pickering, young, shaven-headed, with huge limpid eyes, assumes Merrick’s twisted posture, contorted mouth and slavering speech, yet also reminds us, in his surprising playfulness, that he was only 28 when he died. Rescued from a life in freakshows by Ayden Callaghan’s repressed London surgeon, Treves, he turns from object of horrified prurience to society darling, his residence at the hospital paid for by charitable donations from readers of The Times. He is emblematic both of the Great British Public’s cruelty and its philanthropy.
But has he become, as Treves says, a highly polished mirror, obliged by gratitude to subsume his self and reflect back to his benefactors what they want to see? What of this artistic man’s dreams — of sexual love and a full, rich, ordinary life? Does Treves, as his saviour, have the right to deny them — for Merrick’s own medical and moral good?
Pickering’s Merrick combines childlike innocence and emotional fragility with an entirely adult intellectual sophistication. Callaghan strikes the right note of buttoned-up frustration, and Jennifer Taylor is affecting as the famous actress who allows Merrick a moment of erotic bliss. And despite the production’s imperfections, Pickering ensures that it will be difficult to forget.
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