Bernard Pomerance Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Bernard Pomerance’s main contribution to literature consists of his many plays, but he also wrote We Need to Dream All This Again: An Account of Crazy Horse, Custer, and the Battle for the Black Hills (1987), a book-length narrative poem that re-created the events surrounding the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Pomerance has also contributed poetry to Harper’s Magazine.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Bernard Pomerance has been awarded the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Obie Award, all in 1979, and all for The Elephant Man, which ran for more than two years at the Booth Theatre in New York City.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Bayles, Martha. “Deformation of Character.” Harper’s Magazine 262 (May, 1981): 66-68. Discusses the differences between the play and the film, The Elephant Man. Bayles prefers the film. Unlike most reviewers, Bayles objects to the fact that in the play, Merrick’s physical deformity is not represented onstage. She also takes a negative view of the play’s implication that the hospital is little better than the freak show from which Merrick was rescued.

Graham, Peter W., and Fritz H. Oehlschaeger. Articulating the Elephant Man: Joseph Merrick and His Interpreters. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Includes a wealth of information about Joseph Merrick. Also has chapters on Pomerance’s play, plays by other dramatists that are based on the same story, and David Lynch’s 1979 film The Elephant Man.

Kroll, Jack. “The Playing’s the Thing.” Newsweek 95 (June 16, 1980): 83. A review of Quantrill in Lawrence, a play that does not meet with Kroll’s approval. He regards it as shallow and written in “pseudo-poetry,” while Quantrill himself is “a kind of Confederate Charlie Manson.”

Larson, Janet Karsten. “Poetry of Religion on Broadway: The Elephant Man.” Christian Century 97, no. 1 (January 2-9, 1980): 14-18. Argues that The Elephant Man has religious implications, emphasizing the need for faith in the face of a malignant nature and superficial culture. Merrick is a symbol of transcendence on the stage.

Lawson, Steve. “Beauty of the Beast: The Elephant Man.” Horizon 22, no. 6 (June, 1979): 16-24. Highly positive review of The Elephant Man, which places it in the context of many plays of the 1970’s, including Peter Shaffer’s Equus, that focus on disease, debilitation, or mental disturbance. In Lawson’s opinion, Pomerance’s play is the best of them all.

Montagu, Ashley. The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity. 3d ed. Acadian House, 1995. The book that inspired the play. Montagu discusses the mystery of how Merrick was transformed from a frightened, inarticulate creature into a gentle and inspiring human being.