JC’S THEATRE SPOTLIGHT – Elephant’s Graveyard

TITLE:  Elephant’s Graveyard

VENUE:  Dartmouth Players Theatre (the old Crichton Ave. Community Centre)

COMPANY:  Dartmouth Players

DATES:  March 30 – April 15, 2017

SYNOPSIS:  The circus has come to Erwin, Tennessee, in 1916.  And its marquee draw is Mary the elephant.  But the jubilation of Mary’s visit quickly gives way to tragedy.

HIGHLIGHT:  The details of the two tragic events are played out in gruesome detail.  The horror and tension that grip the audience is palpable, you truly could hear a pin drop.  Had these moments not been described so thoroughly, we could not have truly felt all the emotions of that day over a hundred years ago.  The deafening silence made your own feelings of remorse, shame, and anger even louder, screaming inside your head.

QUOTE:  “An elephant is an investment … investments are tricky when the people want blood.”  “Elephants got those brains like traps, don’t forget nothin’.  People got short memories.  Let go of a memory just as soon as you give it to ‘em.”

SHINING STAR:  As he walks from the climactic scene by the railroad tracks, the “Hungry Townsperson”, played by Des Adams, utters a line that brings us to a sudden, unexpected cultural crossroads.  His delivery is perfect, the line will stay with you (it would have made a fitting ending.)  Des is a talented young actor in the mould of a young Denzel Washington.  He commands the stage in a manner so unassuming it takes you aback.  But this is truly an ensemble cast, with veteran local performers like Rob McIntyre, Nikki Timmons, Sharleen Kalayil, Christine Gerogiannis, and Kelly Doney-Morrison with hubby Brad, among the solid fourteen strutting the boards.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS:  Elephant’s Graveyard is not an easy show to watch.  It’s timely though, with Ringling’s cutting elephants from the circus last year, a move that has pretty much forced them out of business as of next month.  But there’s a deeper point made here.  And the cornucopia of feelings you’ll experience at the final “bow” … rare for a night at the theatre.  As a friend of mine put it online, “The audience wanted to give (the huge cast) a standing ovation, but were unable.”  It was just one of those unforgettable moments.

Photo by Bruce Goodick