The story is told by Dr. Dysart, whose colleague asks him to work with the disturbed boy after the bloody and violent act of blinding six horses. At first Alan only speaks in commercial jingles, but the doctor eventually builds a trust and rapport with him, through which his life story comes out. He had a fairly normal childhood, with strict parents, until a childhood encounter with a horse grew into the worship of a horse spirit or god he calls Equus. Why, then, would he maim these creatures he reveres? Perhaps to break free of their spell? The doctor uses various methods including a tape recorder, hypnosis, and a placebo "truth pill," until the full story is eventually reenacted for the doctor and the audience.
|Alan and Dr. Dysart (Kevin Fanshaw and Charles Numrich|
photo by Dan Norman)
The entire cast is strong, and interestingly never leaves the theater space. Though not onstage, they're always present, witnessing the events as they unfold. But the play really hinges on the two characters of the doctor and the boy, and both Charles Numrich and Kevin Fanshaw give excellent performances. The former is very natural as the world-weary yet still curious doctor; he makes you want to tell him all your troubles one minute and sympathize with his own troubles the next. Kevin is extremely compelling as Alan in all his incarnations - a sensitive and lost little boy, a sulky teenager, a man in love and enraged. Notable in the ensemble is Jeff Groff as the object of Alan's reverence, the horse. With his clip-clopping wedge heels like hooves always moving, and an elegant wire frame horse head (less is more in terms of puppetry), he gives his horse characters intelligence and soul.
|Jeff Groff, Kevin Fanshaw, and the cast of Equus|
(photo by Dan Norma)
I'm catching this one near the end of its run (still playing catch-up from my week in NYC), but you still have four opportunities to see Equus this weekend. At a ticket price of just $13 (or Goldstar discount tickets for a mere $6.50), you don't want to miss this excellent production of a strange and thought-provoking piece of theater.