The Real And Imagined History Of The Elephant Man

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Melbourne audiences have recently been offered up a plethora  of theatrical works made in the same gothic style, brooding, incomplete and fanciful experiences. This work may however remain proof that a tight production, abundance of smoke effects, emotive sound, lights and everything else at your disposal, won’t always prove enough to wow an audience. 

The dramatic exploitation of physically disabled characters. Parallels drawn between London in years proceeding the industrial revolution and our present, here unspoken truth of climate change. These parallels between place and person proof enough of the works artistic merit.  But when a vast majority of art and theatre now collectively seek to push an agenda or incite conversation, each voice has to be  heard louder than the last.

The script limits the depth of these characters, none granted enough premise to foster connection. A radical empathy or sense there of, desperately missing. Having single performers take to multiple characters here has back fired, the resulting effect is confusing, oft missing the mark. The heightened sense of reality which builds in opening scenes, seemingly promises something great; but dissipates quickly. With all the important bits like character, connection, back story and plot lost, the performance canters along and soon falls into its own fail safe rhythm.

There is no great ending or resonate sensation left post performance. Theatre centres around and is at its best a study into the human condition. Not just a moment, but something which is documented, archived and kept. This work aught to be so much more, so much better than it is. Could it be that classic story telling is dead or now lacks some of its resonance? Could a fresh approach to this subject matter, more time or a more intuitive knowledge of the creative fabric that is Melbourne, given us what this performance should have been?

This work has great bone structure though little else. See it for the spectacle, but don’t look to close, nor think to deeply- this is decent theatre, but still leaves much to be desired.

The Real And Imagined History Of The Elephant Man is now playing at Malthouse Theatre, for more info or to book you tickets click here

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