The last two weeks have been pretty depressing. My friend dies, I go to see Equus on 9/11, and I’ve been suffering from the nastiest bout of chronic bronchitis two months before schedule. So no, I’m not all that cheery.
But How Was Equus?
To say that it’s about a boy and his horse is an understatement. Really, I’m just being facetious because the character, Alan Strang is really a heartbreakingly troubled boy who has blinded six horses. Its tragic storyline and heavy subject matter can only be escaped–just as the audience’s voluntary suspension of disbelief–by one single thing: Daniel Radcliffe. His inexperience as a stage actor was a surprise given his successful execution of the play in London. I was therefore no less surprised to see him make a youthful blunder, breaking character on-stage, all because of a silly technical difficulty. When he actually mouthed to the horse to help him affix a stubborn harness in the final scene of Act I, it was obvious to the viewer that Daniel was frustrated with the mishap. At the height of this action-filled moment, a turning point in progress for the young boy’s tale leading to a dramatic intermission, Daniel struggled. Instead of using the problem to his advantage, to behave as Alan would behave, perhaps over-eager to get on with a fantasy and becoming all-thumbs, Daniel didn’t. Even while the seasoned actor, Richard Griffiths stood off-stage and verbally gave permission to the actor to explain the details of his moonlit horseback ride, “when you [Alan] are ready…” the struggle was noticeably incongruent and took the audience away from the story and back to that troublesome harness. The momentum slowly deteriorated for Daniel from there. The only saving grace: the other players. Richard Griffiths was superb as Dr. Martin Dysart. His weariness, regret, and humor played off of his counterpart, Kate Mulgrew (whom most Americans know as female Captain on Star Trek: Voyager) was delicious. As they were breaking down the psyche of Alan, they come to express their own sense of disillusionment and loss for all of the things that they’d once loved. Also brilliant? Lorenzo Pisoni, who kept me glued to the stage not only to see him strut his stuff as Nugget, but whom I believed as The Young Horseman with small, significant movements of his wrists as though an invisible horse pitched back and forth. Finally, the parents: Frank and Dora Strang were entirely understated as simple country folk. Their performance as people who tried desperately to instill goodness and innocence in their growing boy, while displaying their own hypocrisies and shortcomings as parents seemed suitable. There was also amazing set-direction. Five cubes on-stage were transformed into scenery and set. Six svelte actors outfitted in brown suede pants and form-fitting brown shirts all looked like horses. The person who thought up those enormous steel-metal, horses-heads (with light-bulb eyes) was brilliant. And those horseshoe footlift hooves were fascinating to watch. Not only did the actors look like horses, but they behaved like them, making subtle movements with their heads and “hooves” that had me captivated.
But How Was Daniel’s bum?
A sophisticated moviegoer doesn’t blink twice when an actor has a nude scene. Therefore, a sophisticated audience member at a play also doesn’t blink twice. Besides, if you believe Daniel’s own gripe about his own 9/11 performance, you’d of missed it anyway (i.e. shrinkage). But whenever dealing with adult themes such as sexuality, ecstasy and religion, you have to know that an awakening must happen. I’ve mentioned my “crush” on Raddy here already so no need to go into that. Oddly enough, a lot was made about the final scenes where Daniel Radcliffe (former Mr. Harry Potter to you) appears in the buff. No one mentioned that his castmate, Jill Mason (played by an enticing, Anna Camp) was also naked as the day she was born. Then again, she wasn’t Harry Potter or Hermione Grainger. But I digress…
But What’s The Play About?
(SPOILER HERE ~ DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW)
Like I said earlier, there’s a lot going on here. Poor Alan Strand has blinded six horses and a Doctor must find out why. In Alan’s case, the awareness of his own father’s sexuality by catching him at a porn-movie theater, is the aha moment for the character. It is Alan’s understanding of his father as a sexual being which leads to a loss of innocence that is further complicated by the fact that Alan isn’t aroused by the opposite sex, but by horses. Add to that an undercurrent of religious guilt-complexes when Alan, in the throes of his first female sexual encounter, feels as though the horses are judging him. Not just horses, but his favorite ride: Nugget. An animal that becomes his god, Equus, and his preferred vehicle to reach ecstatic climax. Whew. Heavy.
More on Daniel Radcliffe, because…why not?
The guy’s beautiful in person. His eyes are the most noticeable feature, but is that just the crush talking? No. He really has large bright blue eyes that you can spot a mile away. Equus be damned! And, he’s really little. I mean, short. Not little at all. Well…maybe during my performance (i.e. shrinkage) but hey, it was cold in there. All those eyes watching…But forget that for now. Daniel didn’t have to have blood taken from the same arm two days in a row, but he does seem to be lacking iron. I mean, that boy was pasty white, man. Maybe he needs a good Puerto Rican girl to fill him full of chuletas or something. Anyhow, I got blood to go around these days. Ask my doctors who drained me dry not once, but twice. In a row. Back to back. Ugh! But seriously people, he’s still just a 19 year old kid who’s learning his craft–not witchcraft Potter fans, ok? And as I think about that age difference, yuck. OK, I can fantasize as long as he’s over the age of eighteen, but he’s way too young for me. Also, seriously? I’d be robbing the cradle. But he really is just a kid in a man’s world. An acting man’s world. So stop hanging out at the Stage doors trying to get a glimpse because really?! He looks tired. Don’t believe me? Look here. Leave him alone, y’all. Let the poor bugger get his sleep, eh? If you don’t I’ll send you right back to Slitherin House without supper. So there.