REVIEW: Edge-Of-Your-Seat Thrills in Equus


Brisbane Arts Theatre Equus WEB (2)

Peter Shaffer’s Equus is a disturbing play exploring the psychological turmoil of a disturbed 17-year-old and his fixation on horses.

Brisbane Arts Theatre, under the direction of Brenda White, brilliantly revives this intensely confronting play. Brenda’s excellent direction adds a few artistic steroids that confront the audience. The story unfolds as a battle of wits between Alan and his court-appointed psychiatrist Martin Dysart, who’s dealing with his own demons.

Alan’s unhealthy fixation on horses allows him to cope with his cold and emotionally distant parents. His father prefers porn cinemas over his fanatically religious wife.  After Alan blinds five horses, a sympathetic judge saves him from gaol and assigns a therapist.

Christopher Batkin plays Alan and the dark role is a turning point in his career. His first dramatic lead role is simply brilliant and takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions: pure rage, love, distrust, passion and childlike innocence. Anthony Hopkins and most famously Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe both previously played the role. It proved pivotal to both their careers.

The infamous nude scene

The infamous nude scene, so controversial in the 70s, now is simply a part of the play’s unfolding complexity.

Dom Tennison plays Alan’s shrink, Martin Dysart, and brings him to life despite a challenging amount of dialogue. Josephine Dino’s court judge added great dimension to the play as did Claire Argente, who lit up the stage. The play’s horses will capture your imagination with simple yet believable wireframes. The actors controlling them perfectly capture the nature of the animal’s behaviour. The staging is simple but clever with the entire cast onstage for the whole performance.

This must-see play is heavy-going but immensely entertaining, with White’s direction keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Equus is playing at the Brisbane Arts Theatre until September 3. For details and tickets, visit their website.

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Nerelle Harper

Nerelle is a contributor for QN Magazine and QNEWS Online

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