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Old 09-25-2008, 09:09 PM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Post Exclusive: SnitchSeeker Equus review

This past Saturday, September 20th, I had the chance to watch the 2:00PM preview performance of Equus at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City.

A brief synopsis of Equus:

Equus is a story of a troubled young man, Alan Strang (played by Daniel Radcliffe), committed to be psychologically treated by Dr. Martin Dysart (Richard Griffiths), at the behest of a court magistrate, Hesther Saloman (Kate Mulgrew). Alan is caught blinding six of his employer's horses, thus the story is encapsulated by Dysart's need to figure out what triggered Alan to commit such a horrific crime (something Dysart eagerly takes on from its challenge-filled perspective). The play becomes a breakdown of Alan's character, from his love of horses at a young age to his reverence-borderline-obsession over them as a teenager. The pressures of his hypocritical parents, constraining religion, conformative society, and the need to find his own person eventually make something snap inside of Alan, the results of which leave him feeling shame and guilt for his sins.
My review of the play:

I must first say: it's really nice to see that Dan Radcliffe actually can act (I’m in the group of people who feels his portrayal of Harry Potter has always been a bit stoic and stony). At one point I leaned over and whispered to my friend, "Why can't he do that in Harry Potter?" She nodded back, fully aware of how brilliant his performance was.

Which it was. Dan was easily the heart and soul of the production, and not because he's Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter films. If anyone has ever noticed how hyper and jittery he is all the time, imagine Dan putting that into a performance that requires him to run around whilst shouting abuse and complaints at a very comparatively subdued and wry Richard Griffiths (also very good, and hilarious to boot). There really was such a rawness to his Alan Strang that it was mesmerising at some points; you couldn't help but to be taken aback by how much he got into the character, and how beautifully and almost flawlessly he brought someone as tormented, hesitant-to-spill-the-beans, angry, worried, and mentally unstable as Alan to life.

The drawback with having stage seats is that you do miss some of the facial expressions when the actors are talking towards the theatre audience (as they're sitting opposite the stage seats). However, given that you can actually hear the emotions they're trying to convey through their tones of voice whilst speaking, it really does not hinder the play-watching experience (plus, if anyone has seen Equus' numerous promotional images, it gives an idea of what the scenes look like from the other side, anyway, which was somewhat advantageous). There are some scenes where the actors, especially Dan, turn their backs on the audience, so the few of us occupying stage seats sort of received an extra gift (since our seats were about 10 feet above the actual stage, the level of intimacy we felt being so close was nothing that anyone in the theatre seats could understand - though I might be somewhat biased there).

There are a couple of memorable scenes that only the stage seat occupiers could see, having a bird's-eye aerial view of the play. When Dan's Alan was miming flogging himself with a hanger as a means of repentance, you might perhaps think that since very few people would be able to see his facial expressions from the back he wouldn't try as hard - or he'd relax a bit - but he doesn't, at all. You could see the intensity; you could see how much he got into the character and the pain and anguish he feels for the sins he believes he has committed. Eyes clenched shut and face showing a guilt-ridden façade of despair, it could be seen that Dan was truly feeling his character’s pain. There is another particular bit where he's staring up at one of the horses (Nugget, the only one Alan really got intimate with), where his eyes are so wide with awe and adoration that it's actually quite unnerving to look into them, as their utter brilliance whilst lovingly gazing at another figure becomes almost hypnotic.

There are some points, too, where Dan's lying down in a fetal-position on one of the boxes used as props and furniture because he's not required for the scene, so he has his back to the theatre side of the audience. From the stage seats, you get to see his facial expressions, which was sometimes hilarious and so distracting that you lose track with what was going on around him. The other actors are on stage saying their lines and doing their scenes, and you're drawn to Dan just lying there, completely zoned out from everything but the performances around him, while he's scratching his face, yawning, and picking at his nails (which he chewed and spat out a few times, too). I think because we got to see him out of character all those times, it threw us off from Alan and we remembered it is just Dan, so that got a bit troublesome at times when he would get up abruptly and do his scenes. Dan has immense stamina, I have to say (and he does perfect dismounts off the blocks when they're placed in their highest position, causing his feet to be about four feet from the ground and requiring him to jump off, which he did with shocking ease - you see where the gymnastics he learned over the years comes into play).

In addition to Dan’s admirable portrayal, I have to say that Richard Griffith's Dr. Dysart was the perfect compliment to Dan's Alan. With Dysart you get someone who is very guarded about his personal life (and it shows), but he's so calm and collected compared to the wiry insanity that Alan brings with him (where he might be staring intently at his prey or shouting his head off at them), that it works so well. That's something I did notice with the play: there were characters who worked off each other well because of their differences, and that they kind of meshed well together like jigsaw pieces (with Alan and Dysart; Dysart and Hester, definitely, where he sometimes played the annoying, pestilential brat to her rigid, well put-together, authoritarian figure; Alan's parents, Dora and Frank; and Alan and Jill [the stable co-worker whom he dates]: he's utterly reserved and afraid of showing his true colours; and when he expresses a bit of his true self, especially in regards to his fondness of the horses, she sits back and laughs in his face about it because she's just a very easy-going girl who wants to have fun). It's a play of complimentary characters trying to figure themselves out by finding those missing pieces that makes everything understandable and complete, and it's done very well by the actors (though Jill's supposed 'Irish' accent left more to be desired).

The horses and the actors who play them are phenomenal. After Dan's Alan, they really are the second-most interesting characters in the play, by far. You're left in awe at how well those six actors got up and played the parts (there was an incredibly amount of choreography put into it; at the very end, where Alan blinds the horses, it does become a bit of a dance, where he's running about trying to attack them; the grace and elegance with which they shake in pain and horror is magnificent – the only problem is that the climactic scene ends so quickly). The actors embrace their equine characters so flawlessly that the audience can actually forget they are six men wearing metal horse-shaped masks; all that can be seen is the bond shared between a young boy and the animals he loves so dearly.
Equus opens tonight at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

WOW. It sounds amazing!

Mindblowing review! Thank you so much!
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow. I really want to see the play now.

Thank you for sharing.

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Old 09-25-2008, 09:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow. I think I would actually see it now

And that is saying ALOT
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:34 PM   #5 (permalink)

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Wow i might have to swing by and see that when I go to new york for my cousins graduation.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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its hard to get tickets.. i've tried. my friend got tickets and didn't bother asking me if i wanted to go.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm sooooo envious of those able to watch that play.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:47 PM   #8 (permalink)

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its hard to get tickets.. i've tried.
It's not that hard, actually. I was checking around Telecharge just yesterday and they have tickets available for practically every day.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Gee, that's right nice of them. xD
I think that the Equus sounds really good. Too bad I won't be able to see it. Oh well. *shrugs*
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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That's an amazing review Goodness, it makes me want to watch the play even more.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:00 PM   #11 (permalink)

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Great review.

It makes me more excited for January 30th when I go see it with my friend.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:14 PM   #12 (permalink)
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happy to see Dan proved you wrong!
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Well now I REALLY want to see it!
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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it sounds pretty intense. Im not sure id see it just because its Dan, i mean the play is so frickin dark and it probably going to scare me.
But id love to see him like really act out and be a great performer.

Thanks for the review!
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Amazing review. I am going to see it January 17th and absolutely cannot wait! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:32 PM   #16 (permalink)

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Dude, this was one awesome review!

I have to admit, I think I wanna watch this play now.
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:24 PM   #17 (permalink)
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i really want to see this play!
it sounds so good!
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:08 AM   #18 (permalink)

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Wow! I would love to be able to see this play - great review!
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:20 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Good review. Thank you very much.
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I cannot wait for this! only 1 month till I get to see it!
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:56 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I might cry because I want to see the play now!
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:56 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I wish I could afford to go to NY and see this live. Maybe one day again Dan will do some theatre and I'll be able to attend then. Good luck to him though and hope he enjoys his stay in NY!
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Old 09-26-2008, 01:18 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Dan is superb in Equus. To play Alan Strang the actor has to do it all: show all kind of feelings, he even has to sing and do amazing choreographies (not like dacing, it's a chain of movements while his character 'blinds' the horses), so if he can play this role, he can play all roles.

I think Dan has always done a very good job with the character of Harry Potter, he is one of the only ones who have always stayed faithful to how the character is described in the books. The problem with these movies is they don't allow any of the actors to show their full potencial. I don't know if it's the scripts, the directors... or just the way these movies are done. They always seem to take things Harry does in the book and give them to other character is the movies, like the battle at the Misnitry in OotP, Harry is supposed to do all these great spells, but Ginny is the one who does them. But he does all what it's possible with what he is given and he is better and better with each one and for the spoilers I've read he does a wonderfull job in HBP.
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Old 09-26-2008, 05:52 AM   #24 (permalink)
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That was a very good review. I'm looking forward to seeing it in NYC when I go Nov. 1st. We've got great seats; close to the stage!!
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Old 09-26-2008, 05:58 AM   #25 (permalink)
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One of the best reviews i've ever heard. Makes me want to see it even more.
I’m also in the group of people who feels Dans portrayal of Harry Potter has always been a bit stoic and stony.
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