THE story of Joseph Merrick is a sad and humbling one. Dubbed the Elephant Man thanks to his horribly deformed body, he has achieved legendary status having been the subject of books, plays and film.
A new play about the man and how he survives being a freak show attraction to being looked after by Dr Treves is now on at the Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley. And it's an amazing piece of theatre.
Absorbing, gripping and captivating, it is a show that packs one hell of an emotional punch.
Indeed it is a testament to theatre company Fourth Monkey and the five-strong cast that at times it was almost too heartbreaking to watch.
Joseph, played by Daniel Chrisostomou, in what is a truly astonishing performance, is imprisoned not just in his cage at the freak show but also in a metal cage which surrounds his naked body.
It is a genius way to show the outline of his deformed spine and how he was trapped inside his body.
Throughout the play, Chrisostomou’s body is contorted but it his “lovely brown eyes” which the other characters are drawn to and to which they frequently refer.
He is "rescued" by Dr Treves, well played by Scott McGarrick, who decides to use him in his medical research. Over time the pair become friends until Joseph's death at the age of 27.
The production is both hard hitting and tender and is well acted by the cast.
The stage is minimally set with just a metal frame, muslin curtains and wooden board which doubles up as a bed, a carriage, a train and a cage.
But it is Daniel Chrisostomou's performance which is the stand out and worth the ticket price alone. In short it is a must see.
The Elephant Man is on at the Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley until Saturday, February 21. Tickets cost £14. Visit www.brockleyjack.co.uk or call the box office on 0333 666 3366.