Review by Emma Whitelaw
INSPIRED by David Lynch’s cult classic, The Elephant
Man, comes comedy trio Population: 3’s The
Elephant Woman, an extraordinary tale featuring prostitutes,
surgeons, baboons, a hansom cab and a woman with a bag on her
After losing his wife during childbirth, Dr Professor Treves,
played by the delectable James Bachman, stumbles across a travelling
He and his new born son, played by a Terrance and Phillip-like
puppet, are fascinated by the main act, a woman so disfigured
that she could only be deemed half-human.
She is, the Elephant Woman, aka Miss Anella Phant.
The high-camp acting that ensues is hilariously entertaining.
Barunka O’Shaughnessy is delightful as the devilishly wicked
Russian freak show owner, as is Lucy Montgomery as the child born
from an unholy union between an elephant and a very sexy lady.
Using the word 'shit' in as many ways imaginable, Miss Phant’s
owner tells Dr Professor Treves that he may take the Elephant
Woman away for 'scientific purposes', as long as he promises to
bring her back.
Failing that, the fur-clad Russian threatens that she will take
something precious of his, his one and only son.
Lucy Montgomery hams it up as Miss
Anella Phant. Completely unaided by facial expression, as she
wears a mask throughout most of the show, she is remarkably talented
in her use of body language and the deliverance of her lines.
I particularly liked her operatic talents in one scene where
she sings to the audiences' delight.
Her swift introduction to polite society is very much like that
of My Fair Lady’s Eliza Dolittle.
And just as Miss Dolittle charms her teacher, so, too, does
Dr Professor Treves' curiosity soon turns to love as his scientific
experiment results in a proposal of marriage.
The show then takes a more romantic turn, as the couple go on
their first date, a night with Oscar Wilde.
Bachman's riotous portrayal of camp Irish writer was an absolute
With many a reference to 'bumming', the crowd were in fits of
laughter at his anecdotes - and it's worth seeing the show purely
for that alone!
All three comics are great fun, their good natured tomfoolery
is simply a must see.
Having received critical acclaim for their recent performance
at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I can say their run at the New
Ambassadors should enjoy just as much success.
It is guaranteed good clean fun with laughs a plenty!
The Elephant Woman, written and performed by Barunka
O’Shaughnessy, Lucy Montgomery and James Bachman. Directed
by David Sant. September 10, 14, 16 at 7:30pm, and 21st at 9:30pm
at New Ambassadors Theatre, West Street London WC2. Box Office
0870 060 6627.