Peter Shaffer’s play, Equus, has been shocking audiences since 1973. The leading role of Alan Strang has been performed by acclaimed actors such as Daniel Radcliffe, Peter Firth and Alfie Allen.
The story follows a psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, as he tries to help 17-year-old Alan Strang, who has just been charged with blinding five horses with a hoof pick. As Dysart slowly uncovers the truth behind what led Alan to perform such an act, he finds himself questioning his own purpose in life.
Dom Tennison, in the role of Dr. Dysart, completely carried the show from start to finish. He narrated with purpose and created a strong relationship with the audience very quickly. He displayed a subtle vulnerability which only helped to draw viewers in further. His performance was absolutely stellar. Bravo!
Christopher Batkin, as Alan Strang, delivered an emotionally charged performance. He brought this challenging character to life with a beautiful naivety. My only criticism was Batkin’s lack of a British accent, a flaw which became evident for many cast members throughout the show. Only some adopted the accent, which affected the continuity of place within the piece.
Claire Argente, as Jill, was the perfect counterpart to Batkin’s Alan. Whilst this character has significantly less stage time than the other leading players, she gave a performance that left the audience feeling as though they knew her intimately.
An honourable mention must go to Chris Kelly’s lighting design. It was incredibly focused and created some truly breathtaking moments.
An element of this production that I struggled with was the placement of the ensemble cast, who sat on the stage for the entirety of the piece.
It was distracting and completely unnecessary. As a theatre critic, I always try to think about how choices can be justified, even in some roundabout way, by the context of the production in question. In the case of Equus, this choice did not make any sense. It made the stage feel cluttered and drew me away from the intense scenes between Alan and Dr. Dysart. In these instances I think it is helpful to suggest that theatre companies involve dramaturges in varying stages of the production process.
Equus plays at Brisbane Arts Theatre until the 3rd of September.
To book tickets head to www.artstheatre.com.au or call 3369 2344