Fourth Monkey theatre group are impossible to ignore this Fringe with an impressive total of six shows on offer. If this production of ‘Elephant Man’ is anything to go by, they’re a company that should be taken very seriously. Skilfully executed and flawlessly acted, the company present the life of Joseph Merrick, a man born with severe deformities. They tackle this with great boldness and sensitivity in a production that manages to be both moving and, at times, quite funny.

Whilst booming carnival music plays in the background, Merrick is initially shown caught up in the chaos around him, surrounded by grotesque characters who mock him mercilessly. Scenes like this, in which Merrick is depicted as being at the centre of a freak-show, were powerfully disturbing and the spectacle of it all was quite upsetting to watch. This was aided by the closeness of the seats to the stage, which creates an intimate atmosphere and forces us to become complicit with the action.

The cast is uniformly excellent, giving precise and thoughtful performances with clear and infallible diction. Ultimately, it’s Daniel Chrisostomou’s performance as Merrick that steals the show. He gave a subtle performance, utilising his body in a way that made him an undeniably physical presence at first. When Chrisostomou spoke for the first time his voice was startling; he brought a humanity and charm to the character that was impossible not to invest in emotionally.

The contraption Chrisostomou wears is a rather clever way of simulating the deformity, restricting his movement, while still allowing the audience to clearly see him act. Whilst it does require a stretch of the imagination, it’s a subtle and really quite beautiful way of representing Merrick’s deformity. Physically, Chrisostomou is incredibly convincing and even simple movements such as attempting to put on a suit are given an intense emotional investment.

It didn’t quite bring a tear to my eye, but it’s certainly a poignant, sensitively handled version of Merrick’s story with some beautifully nuanced acting from Chrisostomou. The ending is also very moving and it’s at this point that the real significance of the costume choice becomes clear. The group demonstrate moments of inventiveness in staging throughout, but it’s the acting itself that really shines. Take some tissues with you, just incase.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

***** ’A wonderful company’ (FringeReview.co.uk). ***** ‘Electric, seat-gripping, eye-flinching' (FringeReport.com). Joseph Merrick - an oddity, a freak show and scientific marvel ... a human being. Elephant Man is an original telling of this iconic life. The man behind the mask.

Most Popular See More

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets