Broadway Review: ‘The Elephant Man’ Starring Bradley Cooper

December 9, 2014 2:10 AM

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Broadway Review: ‘The Elephant Man’ Starring Bradley Cooper

For a play about social perceptions of physical ugliness, this Williamstown Theater Festival production of Bernard Pomerance’s Tony Award-winning 1979 drama “The Elephant Man” is breathtakingly beautiful. Bradley Cooper, who stars as the grotesquely deformed John Merrick, unlikely darling of Victorian society, may well be the most beautiful feature of all. But the severely stylized nature of the production design places the character’s monstrous beauty within the context of a very dark and quite disturbing genre painting.

Although Pomerance’s play is expressionistic in style, the substance of it is based in true historical events about the bizarre celebrity of John Merrick (Cooper), famously known as “the Elephant Man” for his thick hide and hideous birth deformities. Born in 1862 and abandoned by his mother, Merrick...

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