So I went to Equus on Broadway. Let me back up a bit...
I generally disapprove of stunt casting and I'd been frustrated that people were so gung ho about seeing Potter's wand. It's all anybody talks about when talking about this classic which would lead one to believe that no one had ever seen a penis before. Or not seen one since the 70s. Sad for them.
Equus, for those of you who weren't alive in the 70s when the play caused a ruckus, is the story of a boy who commits an unthinkable atrocity in a stable and is sent to a psychiatric ward for treatment. It's a weighty tale with fascinating ideas thrown around about psychological imprinting, fetishistic sexuality, religion, reparative therapy and adolescent development. Yet all you ever hear about is the dick. Now, I'm totally for onstage / onscreen nudity so I don't wanna sound like a prude but all I could think was this: if people are expecting Daniel Radcliffe's penis to be as meaty as the play they're going to be disappointed. Even if he's hung like a, well...
I was going to be all annoyingly smug and skip the production until they brought in a real stage actor to replace Daniel Radcliffe. But my best friend wanted to see it for his birthday so off we went.
Mea culpa. Radcliffe ain't half bad. He's not even a third bad. It's not quite an award worth stage performance but he holds his own and he's definitely been growing as an actor with so much on the job training. At the very least he's ingeniously cast (yes, Virginia, stunt casting can work) and his physicality, speech, everything... completely sells that precarious and awkward space inbetween boy and man. Which is exactly where the part of Alan Strang, the young man who loves horses to death, needs to live. Richard Griffiths (who you'll know from the film and stage version of History Boys or as Uncle Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise) handles the constantly monologuing psychiatrist role like the consummate stage professional he is (Richard Burton and Peter Firth were both Oscar nominated for the psychiatrist and boy roles in the film version although one of them was marked "supporting", natch).
What's more the production is staged beautifully, eery horse masks top smart costumes and the lighting design is TONY worthy. The supporting cast is good, too. The gorgeous Lorenzo Pisoni plays two key roles and Radcliffe himself is amusingly enamored and not just onstage. Kate Mulgrew is terrific in the small but tricky role of Hester, the psychiatrist's confidante. The only weak spot was the actress playing the mother. She didn't seem to understand the nuances of her role, missing key moments and overplaying others.
All in all it's a very good production of a great play. Equus belongs on stage, where it can stay more abstracted, so if you've only seen it on film, try and catch this production. And if you want a really unsettling double feature, chase it with last year's unnerving experimental doc Zoo on DVD. B+