– by Chantelle Pitt
A psychological drama revolving around a young boy and a terrible deed. What causes a person to do terrible things? And can anyone truly cure them of their pain?
Performed by the Melville Theatre Company and directed by Lars Jensen, Equus is a psychological drama exploring the trials and psyche of Alan Strang (Oliver Kaiser) or the young boy who blinded 6 horses in one night. Martin Dysart (Alan Kennedy) is the psychiatrist who has been given the task of helping Alan as an alternative to sending him to prison, and what a task he has in front of him! Alan proves difficult and remote during his treatment yet the people surrounding him are just as an unhelpful.
I give a round of applause to the discipline in the entire cast, especially the ensemble. The interesting thing about the set up of the action, is that almost every actor remains sitting on benches throughout the performance (minus the 20 minute interval and times when they are acting) without a break in character and movement. I find this truly impressive. A particular scene with stand-out brilliance that I must mention is the ‘eye gauging scene.’ Alan retells the events of that fateful night with such conviction and power that I had to cling onto my seat to stop myself from jumping in fright (no joke). The stage consists of the stable where the horrible event took place and a small section off to the side to act as Dysart’s office. Cast sat on benches around the edges and a large revolving section in the middle served as the basis for many locations. This set really caused me to use my imagination and picture what each setting would look like and almost ignore the physical structure in front of me.
Nudity. This is something that I expected to see in this show because I had heard about the particular scenes before. But when confronted with the first scene Kaiser didn’t strip, instead he mimed the action. I thought to myself that perhaps they didn’t feel comfortable getting undressed and that explanation was enough for me. Unfortunately the trend didn’t continue. Later in the performance both Kaiser and Elouise Eftos as Jill, stripped down to their underwear. This left me confused as to why Kaiser didn’t strip earlier in the play and why he instead mimed the action; a bad choice in my opinion.
All in all, this is a compelling and thoroughly interesting play performed with care and dedication. I applaud all actors for their dedication to their roles and thoroughly urge you to see Equus as it will keep you enthralled with every turn.
Warning: Language and nudity are found in this production. Not recommended for patrons under 15 years of age.
Equus plays until the 23rd of May at Melville Theatre. Bookings and information can be found on their website.
Images courtesy of Melville Theatre Co and Weekendnotes.com.