Eqqus, made famous by starring Daniel Radcliffe in 2008 opened to a full house of big theatre names last Monday at Trafalgar Studios. The play itself follows the diagnosis of a boy who has committed a crime against horses in a nearby stable. Peter Shaffer, the writer, covers lots of issues that arise in modern society – religion, sex, parental relationships and most of all, fear of speaking out. Directed by Ned Bennett; what could be a very heavily worded play, is delivered with delicate insight, excellent use of theatrical staging, seamless scene changes and adrenaline provoking lighting and sound.
Zubin Varlas performance as Martin Dysart, the lead psychiatrist, is compelling and interesting. Varlas rarely leaves the stage through the almost 3 hour performance – without once making the audience doubt his role. Ethan Kai is our leading male, playing the same role as Radcliffe; Alan Strang. Kai, a graduate of ALRA is new to the West End theatre circuit but I can certainly see him growing within the industry. Kai’s performance is honest, relaxed and not once dragged-out selfish. As most people will know, Equus does involve full frontal nudity – a ‘go to’ for any director trying to make a play a little more edgy. However, with Equus this element is almost over looked, it doesn’t cheapen the play nor distract.
The strongest element to the success of this play being kept entertaining for the audience however, has to be the physicality of the actors throughout. Shelly Maxwell, the movement director, along with Ira Mandella Siobhan (Nugget, one of the main horses) goes every step of the way towards visually portraying a horse, with all its physicality, power and mannerisms through the human form. I was pleased to not see puppets or head pieces of anything fabricated that was there to force the idea upon the audience. Siobhan, who has worked previously with DV8 has presence and precision on stage making him constantly the centre of attention.
An intimate cast with full horse power. Norah Lopez Holden, Natalie Radmall-Quirke, Doreen Blackstock, Robert Fitch, Keith Gilmore.
If you are new to theatre, an aspiring creative, or simply a lover of the art – Equus is a masterclass of theatre.
Reviewed by Benjamin Martin
Photo: The Other Richard
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