Elephant Man Aug. 1st, ’15

london west end

It’s with Bradley Cooper! A Must-see! ahem

well, it’s what I thought at the time.

I had seen the play before – years and years ago (10?) in Toronto with Brent Carver as Merrick and Geraint Wyn Davies as Treves. I apologise, I don’t remember the name of the actress. Then, Carver created a deformed outcast out of nothing but his contortions and yet made me cry when he slowly came to realise that his life was about to end, with no money to support him and an ever increasing illness that made even sleeping no longer restful. Carver made Merrick more human than everyone else on stage – he made him more human than any audience member! – and his decision to go to sleep one last time, after he’d finished the model of the cathedral, was heartbreaking and yet noble and probably the most human thing he could do…

So I really was incredibly curious how Cooper would work as the play had been incredibly successful on Broadway and transferred to the West End to a flurry of quickly selling out shows.

And he was good. Really. Alessandro Nivola was great as Dr Treves, even though I had the feeling they’d cut quite a few of his lines and Patricia Clarkson – she is magnificent as Mrs Kendall, the actress who befriends Merrick and after a lifetime of hiding behind roles and behind her actress-persona finally lets him see her real self, even her body, as he’d never seen a woman naked. It is her last visit with him – Treves is no longer allowing her to come, because ‘I don’t want her to see him die’.

Apparently this play was a lifelong ambition for Bradley Cooper. And hadn’t I seen Brent Carver in the same part – who is an amazing actor, hypnotising in his abilities to slip into character and to create theatre magic – I probably would have been truly impressed. Unfortunately for poor Bradley that wasn’t the case. So, yes, Cooper is incredibly good looking and his body is gorgeous. He twists his arm and leg in the most gruesome fashion and never lets go of the dreadful drooling mouth, which is impressive. But the significance of building the model of the cathedral synonymous to building his own life never really came across (plus some idiot fangirl actually took a photo with flash!!! during that scene, probably jerking him out of his character as it did with me and most of the audience in the front rows. giggling moron!!)

But maybe I’m just overly critical and jaded and whatnot. He did get his standing ovation though.  If I was to give out stars I’d give 3 out of 5. And I’m glad I saw it even if it was just to confirm that Carver was stellar when I saw him. 😉

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