“If mercy is cruel, what do you have for justice?”
Merrick’s question is a pointed and powerful one. So often we that claim to “know better” are creating double standards. Little things stand out and begin to hurt and sting. Things that degrade the soul and make us numb to the suffering around us. This is a question that applies not only to a single man, but to all man kind. How many examples of this can we see throughout history? This is the morality that Europe spread across the globe as it colonized and eradicated civilizations that were not strong enough to stand against its advances. This is going on right now with America’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq along with countless other places in the world. This is a question that refuses to go away.
This is a truly wonderful play. Perhaps the coolest thing they do is play Merrick - the Elephant Man - without any make-up. The audience is asked to project his deformities. By making the deformities imaginary we are relate to the central figure as a man rather than an actor in grotesque make-up.