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The Elephant Man Poster

The Elephant Man

4.5 star rating4.5 star rating4.5 star rating4.5 star rating4.5 star rating

Closed August 9, 2015

"His [Cooper's] performance is staggering in its physical discipline, its piercing emotional transparency and, most surprisingly, its restraint."

The Hollywood Reporter

Why See The Elephant Man?


Set in the late 19th Century, Bradley Cooper stars in this powerful drama about the extraordinary story of Joseph Merrick - a severely disfigured man who is taken in by the circus to form part of their travelling 'freak show.' This new revival of Bernard Pomerance's play, which premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2012 and enjoyed a critically successful run on Broadway last winter, follows Merrick's trials as he attempts to live a life with dignity, and struggle to be seen as more than just a form of entertainment.


The play traces the strange life of one Joseph Merrick, 1862 - 1890. His sheer survival was a marvel, as his whole body was stricken with a rare and extreme swelling disorder that left him severerly deformed from childhood.

He left home at 17, after being rejected by his father and stepmother, and entered the workhouse. Uncertain of his future, he wrote to a showman, Sam Torr and became a sideshow exhibit, earning the ephitet The Elephant Man. Life on the road was tough for Merrick and he eventually ended up in poverty, before being taken in by a doctor by the name of Frederick Treves.

Over the last four years of Merrick's life, Treves devoted himself to his care and studying his disease. The two men form a strong bond during this time, yet questions remain about how much Treves cared for Merrick and to what degree he was using him to advance his own career.

Cooper presents a unique portrait of Merrick, using physicality rather than make-up or special effects to bring 'The Elephant Man' to life once more in this powerful play that has had audiences raving on Broadway. Don't miss your chance to see this world-class performance on our very own West End.

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Additional Information


Opening night: 19 May 2015


May not be suitable for younger audiences

Run time

One hour and 55 minutes, including one interval.

And before you stop reading

Please note, images used are from the recent New York production of this play. With the exception of Mr. Cooper, additional casting is subject to change and will be announced at a later date.

Cast and Creative


Bradley Cooper as John Merrick

Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal

Alessandro Nivola as Dr. Fredrik Treves

Anthony Heald as Ross/Bishop Walsham How

Scott Lowell as Snork/Pinhead Manager/Lord John

Kathryn Meisle as Miss Sandwich/Princess

Henry Stram as Carr Gomm/Conductor


Directed by Scott Ellis

Written by Bernard Pomerance

Scenic Design by Timothy R. Mackabee

Costume Design by Clint Ramos

Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada

Lighting Design by Philip S. Rosenberg

What we thought

INTERESTING pleasing Average

The play moves swiftly through the story which intensifies the concentration on the smaller details of the performance.

Hollywood star power is always a tricky beast to manage at the best of times, but the warm intimate space of the Theatre Royal leaves no room for an A-list ego.

Read full review
Teia Fregona

Teia Fregona

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