If life hasn’t been grim enough recently, Elephant’s Graveyard brings us the tragic, true tale of the only known lynching of an elephant. Don’t let the word ‘tragic’ put you off though; it’s worth a watch especially for history fans. Originally written as a stage play by George Brant, this production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals, with original songs written and performed by Luke Potter.
Set in September 1914, Elephant’s Graveyard combines historical fact and legend. A travelling circus longing to be famous meets a tiny town in Tennessee that wants something to break the monotony. In the end, both get what they wish for with deadly results. We follow the story of Mary the elephant, in a mesmerising tale of tragedy, violence and revenge.
Emotional with more than a hint of darkness, it’s not difficult to see why the script is award winning. The very specific details paint a vivid, sometimes almost painfully graphic picture; the description of the trampled skull is certainly not for the faint hearted. The words almost have a way of speaking for themselves as the actors are mostly stationary, delivering the lines straight down the camera.
That being said, the script would have little effect if it wasn’t delivered properly, and this cast definitely knows how to deliver. Their commitment to portraying such a detailed script is commendable. They really seem emotionally invested in the story throughout, and particularly towards the end.
It does feel though, that the production might be more powerful in a live theatre setting where emotional scenes in particular can really create an atmosphere in the audience. Whilst there’s clearly been an effort in the editing, the constant switching from one character to another creates unavoidable choppiness, prolonging the play even more.
At almost 75 minutes long, Elephant’s Graveyard isn’t short and sweet like some of the other online theatre we’ve had in recent months. Unfortunately, the restrictions of online theatre perhaps prevent the production from getting the justice it deserves, but nevertheless it’s a praiseworthy effort.