Mark's Reviews > The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance
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Jun 26, 2010

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bookshelves: fiction, plays, historical-fiction
Read in June, 2010

This was an award winning play which became an acclaimed movie, but other than certain scenes which were particularly affecting, it left me wanting more. The play revolves around the true-life story of Joseph Merrick, who was severely deformed in face and body by Proteus syndrome. The author's purpose was obviously to delve into the moral effects of Merrick's journey from sideshow exhibit to permanent inhabitant of a London hospital, where he became a friend of high society and royalty under the guardianship of a doctor there.

On the one hand, Pomerance did a superb job of sketching many of the difficult issues -- e.g., had Merrick been saved from a degrading life or simply traded one form of it for another more genteel one? -- in a short space, with a limited cast. But because the play was constructed as a series of snapshots -- chronological, but not narrative -- it seemed like a strobe light story to me.
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