Completely Unexpected

Monday, November 3, 2008

Originally, all I knew about Equus was that Daniel Radcliffe plays the lead role in the most recent revival, and everyone was up in arms over the fact that Harry Potter was traipsing around the London, and now New York City stage with no clothes on.
Before seeing the production on Broadway, I was informed that we would be reading the play, and I was not all that excited, because plays are supposed to be seen and not read. Being the student that I am, I completed the assignment and was completely blown away. I simply could not wait to see Equus. The opening scene introduces everything, including Dysart, as well as the test for the characters to overcome; Alan Strang is brought to the psychiatric hospital, instead of being sent to prison, and Dysart is the doctor whose job it is to figure out why Alan has committed a terrible act of violence. Our class textbook states that drama is synonymous with sports, in that it must include limited time and space, opposing and evenly matched forces, with goals for all participants to keep the action moving through the series of crises. The level of limits in Equus involve the the time, where Dysart reflects on a number of days with Alan, as Alan recounts the time preceding the event that brought him to the hospital. Dysart discovers many opposing forces, including Mr. and Mrs. Strang, who disagree on religion, as well as many aspects of raising their son. Another set of opposing forces is between Mr. Strang and Alan, which somewhat resolves itself in Alan's mind when he learns that Mr. Strang is not infallible, but rather hypocritical. A third opposition exists between Dysart and his wife, who live in an incompatible marriage. The audience never sees Mrs. Dysart, but it is apparent that there is tension between the two that transcends into Dysart's work life and the confusion that he feels over Alan's conviction of his faith where Dysart feels as though he is jealous of Alan for having something that he loves so deeply.
Equus also has a very strong plot, with many flashbacks, but also keeps very good time within itself. The way the flashbacks occur are very interesting, and it is difficult to imagine while reading the play how a director will portray the different scenery. After seeing the production, I found it very impressive that the lights and sound can change the whole mood to illustrate the change in time and setting.
Overall, the play amazing, and the production took what was written and made of it a masterpiece. I was very pleased by all of the actor's performances, and thought that the background people behind the lights, sound, and scenery made the performance that much more incredible.