The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, who has been a freak attraction in traveling side shows, is found abandoned and helpless and is admitted for observation to Whitechapel, a prestigious London hospital. Under the care of a famous young doctor, who educates him and introduces him to London society, Merrick changes from a sensational object of pity to the urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati. But his belief that he can become a man like any other is a dream never to be realized.
Bernard Pomerance is a young American playwright born and raised in New York City. While a number of his plays have been produced in London, The Elephant Man is his first major American production. During its opening season, The Elephant Man won all the major drama awards, including three Tonys, three Obies, the Drama Desk Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.