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