Equus

ETA: 2/11/11 to remove references to a certain topic

Thanks Mr F for the (former title)

So I went to see Equus last night. This necessitated a trek along the coast in the torrential rain and blasting winds. I love small seaside towns out of season, there’s something about the feeling that you are one of the few people to discover a town and its secrets. And it was great to escape from the pretentious skinny jeans crowds.

Equus was very interesting. I must admit apart from the nudity, horses, and Alfie Allen (Lily Allen’s younger brother) I didn’t know much about the play before seeing it. I didn’t realise that the play was originally written in the 70’s and apart from the psychology it hadn’t dated signficantly.

The play is the tale of a Dr Martin Dysart who is asked by a magistrate friend to treat a 17 year old boy Alan Strang who blinded six horses. The play is like a detective story with Dysart unravelling Strang’s motivations for his crime, with help from Strang himself, his mother, father, and Jill the girl at the stables where he worked. and Nugget the horse with which Alan developed a strange relationship.

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of the play is that despite the subject matter – which in the hands of a less skilful cast could have been sensational (see title) you identified and sympathised with the conflicted Strang. Alfie Allan was great at portraying the twisted religious sexual needs Strang builds into Equus and the roots of his obsession.

I loved the staging the stark dark blocks that littered the stage, that could be changed from beds, seats, horses, effortlessly showing a beach, stable and psychiatrist friend. The horses were exceptional creepy wire heads set on actor/dancer bodies whose body language effortlessly conveyed nervous horses. They all wore fetishistic high heeled wire hooves as they jumped and pranced around the stage. And in the climatic blinding scene, their unearthly blue lights were extinguished one by one. Very much recommended.

High point: when they were smoking on stage a random old guy near the front shouted out ‘I can smell that from here’. Its not panto honey 🙂 Although I was slightly disappointed he was suitably hushed during the naked scene – now that would have been funny.

Low point: I was having a funny two minutes when Simon Callow was speechifying at the end of the play and inadvertently missed the ending. Boo hiss

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