Broadhurst Theatre, New York
“The good news and the bad news about the new Broadway revival of Equus with Daniel Radcliffe is that the actor is aging a lot more gracefully than the play,” said Elysa Gardner in USA Today. Peter Shaffer’s Tony Award–winning 1973 psychodrama about a psychiatrist tending to a disturbed stableboy who inexplicably blinds six horses “is undeniably seductive.” But the play’s central tenet—that psychiatry robs us of vital Dionysian passions and creative energies—seems oh-so-three-decades ago. Enter Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter film franchise, whose superb and moving performance as the mentally tortured young Alan manages to “enhance the production’s authority and dignity.
Broadway has been atwitter about one scene in which Radcliffe strips nude, said Louise Kennedy in The Boston Globe. But focus too much on the “Harry Potter Waves His Magic Wand” nonsense and you’ll miss “something far more interesting.” The nude scene, which includes Anna Camp as a young girl who tries to seduce Alan, has “an undeniable beauty.” It turns out that, as a stage actor, Radcliffe is “the real thing.” He captures Alan’s troubled eroticism and religious obsession with his equine charges with the mastery of a far more seasoned performer.
Equus has always been known “as a vehicle for two mesmerizing lead performances,” said David Rooney in Variety. As Dr. Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist who comes to regard Alan’s unbridled passions with something approaching envy, Richard Griffiths portrays the conflict between clinical detachment and emotional curiosity with “effortless naturalism and agility.” Director Thea Sharrock has retained the most memorable part of the original production—haunting steel-cage horse masks worn by the six actors who play the horses. This overt artificiality nicely downplays the script’s “wonky, over-explanatory psychology” while highlighting its “blazing theatricality.”