Theatre Review - The Elephant Song

In this absorbing three-hander, a psychiatrist has disappeared from a mental health unit. A young patient, 23-year-old Michael (Gwithian Evans), is questioned by Dr Greenberg (Jon Osbaldeston), the director, and is suspected of somehow being involved.

Could the nurse, Miss Peterson (Louise Faulkner), hold crucial information? At least she’s read Michael’s file and seems to genuinely care abut him.

Michael attempts to reverse their roles, reminding Greenberg that while he may be the patient the doctor is too “impatient” (it’s Christmas Eve and he wants to get home). He implies there was an improper relationship involving him and his supervising doctor.

Michael delights in stringing along Greenberg until he shares the moment he met his father, aged eight, on a safari and watched him kill an elephant. This explains the toy elephant he clutches and his fixation on the noble beasts. Later, he recalls how his mother, a famous opera singer, took her own life.

He has incriminating photos and a scribbled note that he uses to barter for chocolates. All the while it seems Michael is biding his time for a final, grand reveal.

Lasting just 65 minutes, Nicolas Billon’s play can only offer a snapshot of a troubled life, but Evans gives a stunning performance and this is a memorable hour. Jason Moore ensures the pace never lets up, building the tension to the drama’s devastating conclusion.

Warmly recommended.

Orignally published by Islington Tribune 

Until February 11