Bradley Cooper Outperforms on Stage in The Elephant Man

Bradley CooperLast night, the long-waited “The Elephant Man” opened at the Booth Theatre starring Bradley Cooper. Although the play is only for a limited engagement through February 15, it is already getting rave reviews and many people hope it will be extended.

Bradley Cooper who has been nominated for two Academy Awards stars as the elephant man but the play also features Patricia Clarkson, another nominee for an Academy Award, and Alessandro Nivola. In addition to incredible acting talent, the play is directed by Scott Ellis, a nominee for a Tony Award along with Clint Ramos, known for his unrivaled costume design ability.

Cooper first appears on stage without prosthetics or makeup but gradually, morphs into a horribly distorted figure to the point of being unrecognizable. Initially, people are aware that the person playing the elephant man is Bradley Cooper but within a short amount of time, he disappears and becomes an entirely different individual.

Critics agree that Cooper’s role is compelling, just as many other acting roles to include American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper has a unique ability of becoming whomever he plays, almost as if being a blank slate on which the character is built.

Interestingly, Cooper had envisioned himself playing the elephant man role well before the role was offered to him. As with his other work, he commits himself 100%, which is what makes this particular play so intriguing. Not only is he capable of making the required physical changes, he captures the elephant man’s unique wit and sensitivity that people overlook because of the physical disfigurement.

Although the Elephant Man was been portrayed by other actors, now 40 years after the initial film aired, Cooper brings new life into the play. The role may be grim but it also touches the heart. Within minutes of watching the play, it becomes evident that he rises to the challenges, both physically and vocally.

When interviewed, Cooper confirmed that he has long wanted to play the elephant man and his performance does not disappoint. The combination of labored breathing, a distorted face, swollen right arm, and gasping noises, all done without the benefits of makeup or prosthetics is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

While some critics feel the play does not have enough narrative power, it is still captivating. With the role being so demanding, they are not sure anyone except Bradley Cooper could pull it off as well as he does.

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