The fact that Thea Sharrock’s staging of Peter Shaffer’s Equus on Broadway is such a huge success does not puzzle me, but rather depresses me. I won’t beat around the bush – everybody seemed to be there just to see Harry Potter naked. I believe that there must have been someone there who may have heard that this play featured the great Richard Burton (and also Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Perkins) and Peter Firth (as well as Tom Hulce) in the original London and New York productions – Burton and Firth would also make into the film version. But nothing about that today – the whole show was about Harry Potter’s nude scene, the only one to deserve absolute silence during the whole performance.
I don’t intend to fault the staging itself. Thea Sharrock has had many interesting ideas – especially the use of actors with metallic horse heads and hooves expertly coreographed by Fin Walker. The stage itself had an arena-, temple-like structure, with semi-circular niches of stalls around a central altar-like space alternately depicting the psychologist’s office, the Strang’s home and the stables. I am not sure, though, if I enjoyed the way flashback scenes were staged – the transitions seemed a bit confuse and some actors, uncomfortable with them.
I don’t want to sound mean about Daniel Radcliffe’s performance. It is hardly his fault that he was cast in a role that requires a more experient and/or talented actor. From the financial point-of-view, his casting is hardly a misstep – it made the producers lots of money, to start with. The point is that the whole venture is so beyond his abilities that it seems perverse to say anything about it. Playing the role of Dr. Dysart, Richard Griffiths, on the other hand, is an experienced actor, extremely comfortable with what he had to do. Although his acting is beyond any criticism, I felt that maybe he could be less comfortable, as the plays suggests. However, considering that the audience was not there to see him, I would understand his choice. Among the minor roles, Kate Mulgrew (Hesther Saloman) should be singled out – she is the kind of actress who masters the art of interacting both with her colleagues and the audience. I found it also endearing to see Anna Camp as Jill Mason, a role so different from the one she had on The Scene, when I first saw her.