Wednesday, October 22, 2008
There's initially a temptation to think of Equus as dated - pharmaceuticals have drastically changed the world of mental health treatment, so the play's conceit of behavioral psychiatrist as detective seems from another era that includes Hitchcock's Spellbound. But it's quickly apparent in this riveting, superbly staged production that the play's themes are what really matter and that they're as compelling as ever. It's also apparent that the text may traffic in the cerebral but the show is often a powerful theatrical spectacle. Daniel Radcliffe is suitably intense as the adolescent who undergoes treatment after blinding a half dozen horses, but the show more belongs to Richard Griffiths, who emphasizes the doctor's vulnerability and gives many of his speeches the feeling of deeply private soul searching. The result of this approach is that it makes his final monologue newly devastating. All in the ensemble do very fine work save for Kate Mulgrew, whose performance is scaled so grandly that it seems like she's still playing Iphigenia.