By Scott Theis, Managing Editor
SCC Center Stage Theater produced and performed “The Elephant Man.” The play stars Steve Sherfy as Dr Frederick Treves and Christian Lewis as John Merrick (The Elephant Man). The play ran for six shows starting on Wednesday March 5 and ran through Sunday March 9. The show is a sort of historical-fiction based on the book of the actual Frederick Treves ‘The Elephant Man’ and other Reminiscence’. The show mainly focuses on the relationship of Merrick with those around him, with special attention paid to his relationship with Treves.
The show begins with Merrick as a sideshow freak in late 19th century London that Treves just happens to stumble upon while roaming the streets of the city. After being chased out of town and eventually being dumped by his handler and business partner, Merrick is returned to Treves’s hospital where he would spend the rest of life. His life in the hospital started with Treves trying to help him become a “normal person” through teaching of social etiquette and building relationships with people who weren’t only concerned with gawking at him. The relationships allowed the audience to get deeper insight into the Elephant Man and those whom he calls “friends”. Each seem to have their own ideas about who Merrick actually is. The show closes with the death of Merrick in his sleep and how it affects Treves.
The show was well-written with the relationships allowed to really develop. The complicated relationship between Treves and Merrick was front and center throughout the show. It went up and down as Treves tried to “normalize” Merrick, however he didn’t seem to understand that concept. The bond they form and the conflict they experience with each other gives the show tremendous depth.
The set for the show was simple, yet effective. It was two sets of stairs that lead up to a platform that helped to create a pit that served multiple purposes and would eventually become Merrick’s room in the hospital. The choice to have the actor portraying the Elephant Man not have any type of visible deformity seemed like an odd one. It was a little distracting when people would react with horror and disgust to a perfectly normal looking guy.
The acting was very good overall. With the show being set in London, the entire cast had to speak in British accents with most being well executed. The show hinged on Merrick’s relationships with each other person and Lewis pulled it off with each of his cast mates beautifully. The role required lots of range from Lewis and he shined in the role. Serfy, a very experienced actor and author, seemed extremely comfortable in the role of Treves. His portrayal of the serious, yet kind doctor helped bring the show to life. The roles of Carr Gromm, Bishop Watson How, Ross/Snork and Mrs. Kendal were also well executed by Conner Larabee, Michael McPartland, Jakeb Reynolds and Tracy Bono, respectively. The director, Lonna Wilke, clearly did a remarkable job in leading this production.