The 2014 Broadway revival of THE ELEPHANT MAN opened at the Booth Theatre for a 13 week run with Bradley Cooper in the title role, transferring to London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket this year until early August. The production also featured Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola also in the lead roles. All three have received Tony nominations for next month’s Awards ceremony.
Written by American playwright Bernard Pomerance in 1977, it is based on the real-life story of Joseph (‘John’ in the play) Merrick, a grotesquely deformed young man, who was a freak show attraction in the 19th Century. He is rescued from the squalor by Frederick Treves, a renowned surgeon who offers him shelter and comfort for his short life in a private London hospital.
Patricia plays the high-society English actress Madge Kendal, who befriends Merrick, helping him to embrace Victorian society before his ailments defeat him. In his Broadway review for The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney wrote about Patricia: “Her tender performance is an exquisite rendering of artful layers, at its most poignant in a scene in which she shows that her humanity trumps her coded sense of property. There’s a lovely, understated erotic tension in her interactions with both Merrick and Treves.”
Patricia’s impressive credentials have made her a very much demand character actor, including diverse roles in THE GREEN MILE (1999), THE STATION AGENT (2003), VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA (2009) and PIECES OF APRIL (2003) for which she received an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination. On the small screen she won two Emmy Awards for her recurring guest role as the free-spirited Sarah O’Connor in the TV series SIX FEET UNDER.
I meet Patricia at the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s stage door after the opening performance on 19 May, where she signed and dedicated my sketch.