This powerful, poignant, and multi-faceted drama is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man due to a rare skin and bone disorder, he became the star freak attraction in traveling side-shows. Eventually found abandoned and helpless, he is providentially admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician, Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London’s society and slowly transforms from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati only to seemingly be denied his ultimate dream: to become a man like any other.
That is a synopsis of the tale, but it’s much more than that. It compels us to grapple with appearance, perspective, value, and character. It also challenges us to define, or better yet, how and who we allow to define our worth. At the same time, and equally important, it forces us to evaluate how we treat ourselves and others based on those embraced definitions. It begs the question: What is normal, what truly makes a person, and what is really important in life?
Though the events of the play take place in a distant season and place, its enduring message spans time and location. This is not simply a story about Merrick, this is every person’s story. We are all different. Yet we are not really that different at all.
Our prayer is that Merrick’s story will enlighten your personal journey and cause you to look deeper than the surface and higher than the struggle.
The Elephant Man runs May 12-14 & May 19-21, 7 p.m. at The Sanctuary Church, 26444 Friendly Valley Parkway in Santa Clarita. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at: www.ElephantManPlay.com.