Monday, November 10, 2008

Equus, or How Daniel's all grown up!

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Written by Peter Shaffer
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths, Anna Camp, Kate Mulgew, Carolyn McCormick, T. Ryder Smith & Lorenzo Pisoni

No I did not go to watch Equus to brag about seeing Dan's you-know-what. As a responsible theater-goer ::rolls eyes:: I went to see Shaffer's play in its recent revival with an anti-type casting role for Mr Harry Potter alongside veteran thesp Richard Griffiths (for all you HP fans: Uncle Dursley). But I would be lying if I didn't say it was a draw... to see Mr Radcliffe stretch his acting muscles a bit, and reveal all of his physical ones on stage.

I didn't know much about Shaffer's play (except of course that there was some sexual fascination with horses and a nude scene) but I was surprised to see an interesting psychological look at a damaged boy: after blinding six horses, Alan Strang is taken to a facility where he starts meeting with psychiatrist Dysart who hopes to uncover what happened and finds himself instead evaluating his own life. Yet besides its pop psych 101 language the play is constantly evaluating provocative questions: Nurture or nature? (Alan's mom has this great line: "Whatever's happened has happened because of Alan. He is himself. Every soul is itself" that kind of sums up the parents' concepts of Alan's disturbance); What is the role of faith and deities in this world? (Equus vs Jesus vs Dysart's classical/pagan gods)

The staging strengthens the concept that we are at once in Alan's head, in his memories and in the analysand's couch with a bleak circular stage that has minimal furniture (just four blocks that double as couchs, chairs, beds, etc.). Add to that the beautiful "horses" (tall, toned gay men in tight brown pants and brown shirts with hoove-shoes and metal/leather horse heads) and you have at once a surreal experience and an oddly re-working on bestiality that borders on homoeroticism which in itself sanitizes and maximizes the psychologically troubled world of Alan. A


You said...

Wow, I heard it was a bit dated, but that probably means that I am dated me more than anything else. And we all know how much I like to date.

Now I'd like you to do a review specifically on Harry's Potter...

J.D. said...

Very nice review, man.

But... ;)

Anonymous said...

As a "seasoned theatre goer" I'm surprised and a little offenede you would automatically assume the horses are all played by gay me.

Maybe you should have paid more attention, more of those men were straight than gay.

It's a fairly nice review except for that one ridiculous, outdated bias.

mB said...

I don't think it's an outdated as much as it is a coded artistic choice. It is fair to say that the bestial scenes on the stage are re-presented as homoerotic encounters, by which I mean that even if the men playing the horses weren't gay, the way they are presented to the audience evokes a type that is more akin to well-groomed and toned gay men than to regular straight men.