Equus at New Theatre
A play titled with the Latin word for horse does not seem like the most promising use of a weekday evening
However given the hype that surrounded the play when Daniel Radcliffe went fully nude in it a few years ago, there was intrigue to how this script would be handled by New Theatre.
Equus is a play centered upon Alan Strang (Ajay Stevenson), a seventeen year old adolescent for whom horses have become bound up with religion and sexuality. Alan has blinded six horses in one night and is subsequently sent to see psychiatrist Martin Dysart who attempts to help understand why Alan has done what he has.
The play asks some big questions about modern society and makes for a challenging piece of theatre.
The piece was beautifully and minimally staged, taking place on an all black set on which the cast remained on benches at all times.
A particularly innovative piece of costuming was the wire horse heads which similar to the puppets used in the stage adaptation of War Horse.
The cast were all excellent, from the leads right through to the chorus. The chorus was used very well physically, particularly in their imitation of a stable full of horses.
One specific scene stood out in which this physicality was used to the greatest effect to imitate the galloping of a horse, in conjunction with the staging and the use of a smoke machine to mimic the mist of fields at night this was especially engrossing. It provided an excellent climax to the first half.
In terms of negatives, there were a few. There was a heavy reliance upon shouting to emphasise strong emotion. The set was so elegantly bare lighting took on an even more important role and there were a few occasions when actors were not lit well enough.
However these are minor issues which did not affect the enjoyment and success of the play.