Book 7: Equus

TITLE: Equus
AUTHOR: Peter Shaffer
STARTED: February 16, 2007
FINISHED: Februrary 17, 2007
PAGES: 125
GENRE: Drama

FIRST SENTENCE: [The first line of the play] With one particular horse, called Nugget, he embraces.

SUMMARY: [From] Alan Strang is a disturbed youth whose dangerous obsession with horses leads him to commit an unspeakable act of violence. As psychiatrist Martin Dysart struggles to understand the motivation for Alan's brutality, he is increasingly drawn into Alan's web and eventually forced to question his own sanity. Equus is a timeless classic and a cornerstone of contemporary drama that delves into the darkest recesses of human existence.

REASON FOR READING: I wanted to know why Harry Potter would choose this play to make his stage debut.

THOUGHTS: As stated above, I wanted to read this play to figure out why Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter) would decide to take a role playing a pretty deranged character who appears nude on stage. Well, having read it, I can say that Radcliffe probably took the role because it allows him to act. That's not to say that there is no acting in the Harry Potter series, it's just a different sort of acting. Where Radcliffe has to play internally and through his facial expressions in the movies, in this play he gets to lash out physically. Strang is a very demanding character, very dynamic, disturbed, and abundantly intriguing.

Because I read this play simply to get inside of the mind of an actor, I readily admit that I most likely missed the greater meaning in the play. That said, I did readily find the most obvious point Shaffer was making. Shaffer's play is radical in the sense that it makes it's hero a boy who is, for all intents in purposes, mentally disturbed on the most basic levels. Shaffer's dialog is straightforward without being stark. It hits the audience or reader's emotions by making them think about their own sanity. The play is thought provoking because it requires the audience to take a self-inventory of the influences in their life. Shaffer is basically saying we're all abnormal in some ways, but how we deal with our differences is what defines us as "crazy" or "sane."

I found the most interesting part of the film was how Shaffer showed that religion is deeply personal. The audience comes to realize that Strang is equating horses as a sort of religion. Raised as the son of an atheist father and deeply religious mother, the household he grew up in turned and interest in horses into a deep obsession. The way Strang stalks about his physical connection with Nugget the horse is disturbing because it seems so real to life. It was at the climax of the play where I knew Radcliffe chose this role because it allowed him to both mentally and physically express the life of a complex character.

This version of the play did not simply include the script, it was a staged script. That is, it included the set description, lighting, costumes, and blocking of the characters. Those aspects add an extra dimension to this book. It rounded out the play and actually allowed me to visual what I was reading. On the other hand, it also meant that I focused a lot on the staging and not the actual script.

Equus is a remarkable play despite how unsettled I felt after reading it.

MISCELLANEOUS: The photos... it's so wrong of me to like them, but I do anyway.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Belongs to the library.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]


Samantha said…
I've been waiting for you to say something about this play. I haven't read it and have only been told certain things about it by people. But from reading your review, I think it's a good move by Radcliff to take a chance at a demanding role while he's still doing Harry Potter too. With the HP movies still going on he's still getting a lot of attention and this play is his chance to be taken seriously as an actor and to be able to branch out into other films instead of becoming a "one hit wonder" and forever remaining the guy who played Harry Potter. And since he has to be naked the play is getting a lot of attention, and because of that how he well or bad he does in the play will get a lot of attention. Anyway, I think him taking this role was a brillant idea of breaking away from the harry potter role and opening himself up to more adult roles. Sorry for rambling.
Meghan said…
From what I hear people are giving his appearance rave reviews. If he wanted to break out of the Harry Potter role, I think he's probably succeeded.
patricia said…
It's a very demanding role. I've never seen the play, and would love to. I saw the movie version of the play when I was a teenager, and was deeply moved by the experience. There are so many important ideas in this tightly written play -- a study of religion, the development of one's psyche, and why one person becomes 'who they are' based on seemingly irrelivent events, and the concept of living with passion, how one should live, not to mention certain ethical problems a phsychiatrist must face when trying to help a young teenager.

If you get a chance, try and rent the movie -- it was done in the late 70s I think, and stars Richard Burton as the pyschiatrist. Absolutely amazing.
Meghan said…
I had no idea there was a film version. I think I may have to add that to my Netflix queue.