The Thursday Night Theatre Club Presents “The Elephant Man.” Written by Bernard Pomerance. Directed by Robyn Cohen.
Running March 21 – 23 and April 3 – 14, 2019, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm, some Sundays at 3pm
The El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA. 91601
The Elephant Man is a sad and sorry tale. Iconic in British history, it is a story that teaches us that man can be as vile as he can be merciful and as evil, as he can be angelic.
The hero, Joseph Merrick, was born deformed and, as he grew became more and more so. His mother abandoned him and he was discovered in a workhouse by a ruthless man who then paraded him around the freak shows of England and Europe. Once he was done with him and abandoned yet again, Joseph Merrick found his way the Royal London Hospital where he was able to live out the remainder of his life.
This phenomenal and much-awarded play, with its surreal staging and poignantly chosen moments from the life of its subject, Joseph Merrick, is a brave choice for any theatre company. The production requires total commitment and complete trust in the content of the story, the precision of the words and an audience’s ability to suspend all disbelief and embrace the vision unfolding onstage.
Cast (L-R): Vanessa Vaughn, Jennipher Lewis , Robin Roth, Tom Vitorino, Albert Soratorio, John Sperry, Nathan Wallace
Done well, it’s a breathtaking play and one of the most compelling pieces of theatre created in recent years. The Thursday Night Theatre Company has taken on this gorgeous work quite fearlessly, which is absolutely the only way to do it justice. The lovely stage at the El Portal is the perfect setting for such a magically real performance piece and the cast move seamlessly from scene to scene, gracefully spinning this heartbreaking story of a man monstrously deformed on the outside and yet with the soul of an angel.
The Thursday Night Theatre Club’s presentation of “The Elephant Man” is stylish, bold, funny and profoundly moving. Each of the roles is played with intensity and brilliance. Sure, the accents slip slightly from time to time, but the passion and the agony are in every syllable.
Cast (L-R): Nathan Wallace, Logan Padilla, Tom Vitorino & John Ralston Craig
The spell of this play is cast in the first few moments, when we are introduced to the story by a sweeping hospital custodian and then the physical nature of Joseph Merrick’s maladies are explained to us by his doctor, as they would have been to an auditorium of Victorian medical students. As we watch, the actor portraying him astonishingly transforms himself onstage, from man to monster as it were. The transformation is without prosthetics or makeup, entirely achieved through the actor’s ability to contort and twist himself, to give to us his version of this most unfortunate man. Tom Vitorino, as Joseph Merrick, performs this task quite spectacularly and maintains his deformation throughout the play with remarkable grace and humanity.
Cast (L-R): Tom Vitorino and Alice L Walker
This is a truly excellent production of a play that should be on everyone’s shortlist and I advise you to take full advantage of The Thursday Night Theatre Club’s masterful and heartrending version on “The Elephant Man.”
Skip Pipo, Jon Sperry, Vanessa Vaughn, Nathan Wallace, Robin Roth, Jennifer Lewis, Rovin Roth, Alice L. Walker, Tom Vitorino, Albert Soratorio, Jay Parker, Emily Kellis, David Revaza, Logan Podilla, John Ralston Craig.