Wed 11 – Sat 14 December
Rotherfield Hall, Henley College
The Henley College’s Christmas production is a darker and more challenging tale than last year’s highly successful production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Students will be performing the story of John Merrick, better known to many as ‘The Elephant Man’. Perhaps most renowned thanks to John Hurt’s performance in the film version of his story, The Elephant Man was a play first and has recently been performed on Broadway with Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper in the leading role. Director and College teacher Neil McCurley said: ‘Everyone has heard of Merrick and the Elephant Man and thinks they know his story. The film was outstanding, but the play draws on a different set of sources and approaches the story in quite a different way widening the focus to examine not only Merrick himself, but those around him. ‘Everyone remembers John Hurt’s performance, but fewer remember Anthony Hopkins’ performance as his doctor Treves and the play is much more balanced in its treatment of both men. On a simplistic level, the play is about prejudice and that’s a central issue, but the play is also about the relationship between science and religion – it’s a fascinating story and I’m hoping audiences will be both entertained and moved by it.’
Student Ben Cooper, who will play Merrick, added: ‘It’s a physically very demanding part to twist and contort my body into Merrick’s and to try to capture his voice. I hope people think I’m doing a good job, but I also hope they see beyond that and connect with his story and the experiences he had, some incredibly violent and traumatic and some really life-affirming. I’ve never played a role as complex as John Merrick before.’
Tickets £8/£7 Concessions available from Henley College Deanfield Reception or 01491 579988