Equus

Trafalgar Studio 1
Whitehall, London

Public Previews: 6 July 2019
Opens: 15 July 2019
Closes: 7 September 2019

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Theatre seating plan

Show times
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no shows
Note:
Sat 6 July at 7.30pm only

Runs ? hours and ? minutes

Seat prices
£? to £?
(plus booking fees if applicable)

Equus

A major revival of Peter Shaffer's play Equus in London for a strictly limited season

Alan Strang seems a normal, obedient 17-year old with a passion for horses. Then one night in a Hampshire stable he blinds six horses with a hoof pick. What drove him to it? His life seems routine, his family loving, his pursuits harmless and yet he has been placed under psychiatric surveillance - an unresponsive patient who is woken each night by terrible nightmares. Only psychiatrist Martin Dysart seems able to grasp the answer to this psychological puzzle.

This production transfers to London's West End following a successful run at Theatre Royal Stratford East in East London.

The cast at the Trafalgar Studios features Ethan Kai as 'Alan Strang', Zubin Varla as 'Martin Dysart', Robert Fitch as 'Frank Strang', Ira Mandela Siobhanas 'Young Horseman' and 'Nugget', Keith Gilmore as 'Harry Dalton', and Norah Lopez Holden as 'Jill Mason' - who are all reprising their roles from the Stratford East staging. Directed by Ned Bennett with movement by Shelley Maxwell, designs by Georgia Lowe, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and music and sound by Giles Thomas.

PLEASE NOTE: The age guidance for this production fourteen and above due to scenes of sexual violence, full frontal nudity and strong language. In addition this production contains strobe lighting, haze and the smoking of herbal cigarettes.

Zubin Varla's London stage credits include the role of 'Feste' in Michael Grandage's revival for the Donmar Warehouse of William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2008; 'Judas Iscariot' in the original cast of Gale Edwards' revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum Theatre in 1996; and 'Jack Robinson' in Ian Talbot's revival of the George and Ira Gershwin musical Lady, Be Good! at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park in 1992.

This production was originally seen at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in East London (previewed from 15 February 2019, opened on 21 February 2019 and closed on 23 March 2019) when the cast featured Ethan Kai as 'Alan Strang', Zubin Varla as 'Martin Dysart', Ruth Lass as 'Hester Salomon', Robert Fitch as 'Frank Strang', Syreeta Kumar as 'Dora Strang', Ira Mandela Siobhan as 'Young Horseman' and 'Nugget', Keith Gilmore as 'Harry Dalton', and Norah Lopez Holden as 'Jill Mason'.

When this production was seen at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in February 2019, Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed: "What a thrill it is to see this thoroughbred of a revival from the adventurous young director Ned Bennett... Ethan Kai is a revelation as Alan, the boy who goes berserk in a Hampshire stables. Wiry but wary, challenging but needy, he gives the evening its core of danger and desire. The show is held together, though, by a quietly sensational central turn from Zubin Varla." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard said "what a magnificent evening this is. Director Ned Bennett revolutionises Peter Shaffer's can-be-ponderous 1973 modern classic about a disturbed teenager and turns it into an intoxicating event that drips with physicality and theatricality." Luke Jones in the Daily Mail highlighed that "Ethan Kai as the young man is brilliantly numb, then caged, then loquacious, then furiously passionate... The fundamental triumph of director Ned Bennett’s version is the deceptively simple but devastatingly powerful production."

"With one particular horse, called Nugget, Alan embraces. The animal digs its sweaty brow into his cheek, and they stand in the dark for an hour - like a necking couple. And of all nonsensical things - I keep thinking about the horse! Not the boy: the horse, and what it may be trying to do. I keep seeing that huge head kissing him with its chained mouth. Nudging through the metal some desire absolutely irrelevant to filling its belly or propagating its own kind. What desire could that be? Not to stay a horse any longer? Not to remain reined up for ever in those particular genetic strings? Is it possible, at certain moments we cannot imagine, a horse can add its sufferings together - the non-stop jerks and jabs that are its daily life - and turn them into grief? What use is grief to a horse? You see, I'm lost. What use, I should he asking, are questions like these to an overworked psychiatrist in a provincial hospital? They're worse than useless; they are, in fact. subversive. The thing is. I'm desperate ... I'm sorry. I'm not making much sense. Let me start properly; in order. It began one Monday last month..." Martin Dysart, a pschiatrist.

Peter Shaffer on his play Equus: "One weekend I was driving with a friend through bleak countryside. We passed a stable. Suddenly he was reminded by it of an alarming crime which he had heard about recently at a dinner party in London. He knew only one horrible detail, and his complete mention of it could barely have lasted a minute - but it was enough to arouse in me an intense fascination... Every person and incident in Equus is of my own invention, save the crime itself; and even that I modified to accord with what I feel to be acceptable theatrical proportion. I am grateful now that I have never received confirmed details of the real story, since my concern has been more and more with a different kind of exploration."

Equus in London at the Trafalgar Studios public previews from 6 July 2019, opens on 15 July 2019, and closes on 7 September 2019


Original West End London Production 1973 - Old Vic and Albery Theatres

1st West End London Revival 2007 - Gielgud Theatre


Original West End London Production 1973

Previewed 17 July 1973, Opened 26 July 1973, Closed 30 March 1974 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre
Returned 21 August 1974, Closed 8 February 1975 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre
Previewed 6 April 1976, Opened 20 April 1976, Closed 18 June 1977 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)

The original cast at the Old Vic Theatre featured Peter Firth as 'Alan Strang', Alec McCowen as 'Martin Dysart', Louie Ramsey as 'Nurse', Gillian Barge as 'Hester Saloman', Alan MacNaughtan as 'Frank Strang', Jeanne Watts as 'Dora Strang', Nicholas Clay as 'Horseman', David Healy as 'Harry Dalton', and Doran Godwin as 'Jill Mason'.

The original cast at the Albery Theatre featured Gerry Sundquist as 'Alan Strang', Colin Blakely as 'Martin Dysart', Jennifer Piercey as 'Nurse', Louie Ramsey as 'Hester Saloman', Glyn Owen as 'Frank Strang', Jane Wenham as 'Dora Strang', Rupert Frazer as 'Horseman', Peter Schofield as 'Harry Dalton', and Petra Markham as 'Jill Mason'.

Directed by John Dexter with movement by Claude Chagrin, designs by John Napier, lighting by Andy Phillips, music by Marc Wilkinson, and sound by Ric Green.


1st West End London Revival 2007

Previewed 16 February 2007, Opened 27 February 2007, Closed 9 June 2007 at the Gielgud Theatre

A major revival of Peter Shaffer's play Equus in London starring Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths and Jenny Agutter

The cast for this major revival of Equus in London featured Daniel Radcliffe as 'Alan Strang', Richard Griffiths as 'Martin Dysart', Karen Meagher as 'Nurse', Jenny Agutter as 'Hesther Saloman', Jonathan Cullen as 'Frank Strang', Gabrielle Reidy as 'Dora Strang', Will Kemp as 'The Young Horseman' / 'Nugget', Colin Haigh as 'Harry Dalton', and Joanna Christie as 'Jill Mason', with Joel Corpuz, Jami Quarrell, Greig Cooke, Temujin Gill and Jonathan Readwin as the 'Horses'.

Directed by Thea Sharrock with choreography by Finn Walker, designs by John Napier, lighting by David Hersey, and sound by Gregory Clarke.

When the ground-breaking production of Peter Shaffer's Equus premiered at The National Theatre on 26 July 1973 it's theatrical impact was unprecedented. It was the most talked-about new play in London. Now for the first time in over 30 years, a new production of Equus returns to London's West End - and once again it promises to be the theatrical event of the year.

Daniel Radcliffe makes his London West End stage debut in this production. He is best known for playing the title role in the hugely successful Harry Potter series of movies. Richard Griffiths' recent London stage credits include the role of 'Henri' in Thea Sharrock's West End premiere of Gerald Sibleyras' comedy Heroes, adapted by Tom Stoppard, at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005; and the role of 'Hector' in the original cast of Nicholas Hytner's London premiere of Alan Bennett's play The History Boys at The National Theatre in 2004, which he also played on Broadway at New York's Broadhurst Theatre in 2006 for which he won the Tony Award for 'Best Actor in a Play'.

"The director, Thea Sharrock, seems to know very well that the play's climatic flashback sex scene is its one and only selling point and wastes little time with any great flourishes or original effects... There is a world of difference between film and theatre acting... Inevitably, the the scenes Daniel Radcliffe shared with his fellow actors, it was their experience that drew my eyes to them." The Sunday Telegraph

"Peter Shaffer's Equus is without doubt a play that deserves to be treated with respect. In fact, for all its faults, this extraordinary and sometimes horrifying story... remains one of the great English postwar plays... Radcliffe is mesmerising, capturing all of Strang's weird charisma, his rage, his silently burning intensity, his accusatory stare, his mystery, his "keep out of my private sacred space" hatred... As a work of art, Equus is magnificent, though not perfect. Dysart talks too much, is too florid, too obviously Shaffer at times, haranguing his comfortable, middle-class, theatre-going audience. But Richard Griffiths is a joy in the role." The Sunday Times

"Thea Sharrock's production offers a sharply contrasting dramatic and emotional experience... Daniel Radcliffe, a competent actor, fares better than the play, though, frankly, he's not going to be the Hamlet of his generation. He's tough, touching and convincing as a troubled teenager whose preferred retort to adult enquiry is an insolent death-stare. How he must have longed for his invisibility cloak for the extensive nude scene. The poor boy has to run about, attempt sex and then - out of shame for what he has not done, or guilt for what he wanted to do - blind the horses with a hoof pick. Alan softens under the tender care of the psychiatrist Dysart, a gently probing Richard Griffiths, an actor with an astonishing gift for playing roles in which he is required to bring out the very best in adolescent boys. Physically, this huge Dysart makes the diminutive Radcliffe's Alan look small; psychologically, he makes him walk tall. When this relationship is under scrutiny, the play is as compelling as ever. But the thrust of the piece - that the unhinged are acting out of excessive passion, which psychiatry must exorcise, leaving them normal but passionless beings - now seems decidedly dodgy and the play as a whole feels dated... Sharrock's production lacks horsepower, however, perhaps because the once-startling stylisation has become de rigueur." The Mail on Sunday

Working closely with Peter Shaffer, director Thea Sharrock has made a number of minor adjustments to the original text of Equus for this major London revival: "We've looked very hard at everything and tried to make it feel as contemporary as possible. We are perhaps more familiar with psychiatry and its language than we were in 1973 yet, because Peter based the play in such a real medical world, the medical content feels extremely up to date. And the narrative is so strong, it's like reading a thriller. What is particularly liberating about the play is that Peter trusts the audience to use its imagination. You don't have to create an image that will tell you what the walls look like or which pictures would have been hung on them... It's a wonderful play, an exceptional piece of work. And because it's not recently been done professionally, that gives us an immense opportunity. Like all the best plays, Equus asks the questions but doesn't give you the answers. It looks at the way we treat teenagers in a society where there is a complete and utter absence of religion or worship and it asks what they are supposed to believe in now. Audiences should, we hope, experience a thrilling night at the theatre and come away with all these questions reverberating in their minds."

Equus in London at the Gielgud Theatre previewed from 16 February 2007, opened on 27 February 2007 and closed on 9 June 2007.