should be a difficult play to enjoy. And I actually do mean should:
Equus is based on a real crime that Peter Shaffer once heard about
in passing; a teenage boy who blinded six horses with a metal spike.
had to create a mental world in which the deed could be made comprehensible,"
he said. But this week's OFS production is…fun. It is essentially
a detective story: a boy called Alan Strang mutilated six horses
with this spike, and you're there to find out why he did it.
we seen this man somewhere before? Colin Burnie in his latest
fault actually lies in the writing, not the production team. It
just isn't an intelligent play. Shaffer was determined to make madness
comprehensible, but he made it too comprehensible, made every neurosis
fall into place, and his explanation is - well, a bit lame.
doesn't want to deal with the real human mind. The most brilliant
parts of Equus were the scenes between Alan and his doctor. Here,
quick fire dialogue and extraordinary dynamic re-enactments with
dancer-horses make it obvious, blindingly obvious that Alan is in
terrible pain, but that he is awakening through the course of his
treatment and through the relationship with Dysart. Dysart
responds; he also grows. Actors Andy King and Mike Bartlett are
at their best right there and the play becomes lovely, beautiful.
Shaffer buttons down the conclusions. The audience is directed into
a specific debate: is madness better than sanity? Equus closes not
with Alan, exhausted, sated, for us to make of what we will; but
with Dysart bemoaning the dull normality of adult life. Shall we
ever feel passion again?
feels like a detective story because it is: the cleverly constructed
plot which makes it so much fun is just a mirror of the cleverly
constructed psyche which apparently makes a boy stick steel into
the eyes of a horse.
is, really, enormous fun - and I plead with you to laugh out loud
in the scene just before the interval, because I'm sure that's what
the actors wanted - but it left me frustrated. It's a great production
and the energy would be there to make it something amazing, if the
writer was honest enough or brave enough.