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Elephant Man tale to be told at Hornchurch theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 April 2015

Rehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

Rehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

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The captivating story of the “Elephant Man” is to be told in a “visually stunning” theatre production.

Tom Cornish plays Tom Cornish plays "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

The Elephant Man, which opens at Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, explores the true story of 19th century Londoner Joseph Merrick and his journey from circus attraction to Victorian socialite.

He was named the “Elephant Man” during his time in the circus due to his severe physical deformities which came after he developed abnormally at a young age, leaving him with a malformed head, an overgrown arm and a curved spine.

The causes for Joseph’s appearance have never been definitively explained.

Director Simon Jessop said: “Preparations are going really well, I’ve been working on it for about seven months now, sourcing materials for it and working with the designers. It’s going to be very textured and intricate and visually stunning.”

Tom Cornish plays Tom Cornish plays "Elephant Man" Joseph Merrick at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

He added: “Everyone’s throwing themselves into it – we’ve been to the Royal London Hospital museum and we’ve been to see where he lived.

“It’s a real story so we want to do it justice – it’s someone’s life.”

The show, which runs from April 17 to May 9, does not use any prosthetics in the portrayal of Joseph as is required in the Tony Award-winning play, which was written by Bernard Pomerance and premiered in 1979.

Simon said: “It’s solely down to the actor and it’s remarkable to see because the audience have to use their imagination – it’s definitely challenging.

Rehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark SeppleRehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

“It’s about people buying into your vision.”

He said of the story: “It’s about hope and despair, it’s about someone who has suffered with crippling disabilities. It’s a refreshing take on a classic story – it’s real theatre, you can feel it and smell it.”

The production combines film footage and live music which is performed by the cast.

“It’s really ambitious but we’re really trying to push the boundaries with the scale of the set,” said Simon.

Rehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark SeppleRehearsals for The Elephant Man at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. Picture: Mark Sepple

“It’s evocative, it’s moody but it’s great, it’s really epic and it’s fantastic. It’s going to be really special.”

Tickets for The Elephant Man, which stars the theatre’s Cut To The Chase ensemble, cost between £12.50 and £26.50.

Call 017 0844 3333 for more information and to book or book online at queens-theatre.co.uk


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