Arriving from his East Midlands beginnings into a London thick with the grime of industrialisation, Joseph Merrick is an anomaly. In a city of factories that churn out uniformity, there is no place for someone like him.
But Merrick and the city are evolving into something new. We follow him through the workhouse, the freak show and the hospital, as he searches for acceptance in a society that just wants to stare at him.
Powerful, angry and surprising, Tom Wright’s acclaimed play imagines an alternative history of the person who came to be known as ‘the Elephant Man’. It restores Joseph Merrick to the centre of his own story: a man fighting for his right to be and to belong.
The Real & Imagined History of the Elephant Man was first performed at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre, before receiving its European premiere at Nottingham Playhouse in 2023, directed by Stephen Bailey, and supported by a grant from The Royal Theatrical Support Trust.
‘A challenging, moving play about spectacle, difference and identity’
— Limelight Magazine
‘Everyone should be moved by such poetic and accomplished theatre’
— The Age
‘Astonishing… it’s doubtful whether there has ever been a better example of theatre’s ability to be inclusive at the same time as being able to shock’
— British Theatre Guide
‘A powerful piece of theatre’
— Reviews Hub