Equus.

Dec. 17th, 2008 09:42 pm
sechan19: (tormenta)
I promised a fuller analysis of the play Equus in an earlier blog post. So, here it is.

Right out of the gate, let's dispense with the Daniel Radcliffe stuff. He gave a riveting performance; a fearless performance. It demonstrated his talent and drive, and it convinced me that he will grow into a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. Radcliffe is clearly determined to make his way as an actor, and he has the tools to achieve his goal.

He wasn't the only actor to give such a strong and brave performance, however. One of the things that struck me as I watched the narrative unfold, was that the hubbub surrounding Radcliffe's nudity had eclipsed much about the play itself and the other players. Anna Camp, who portrays Jill Mason, also delivered an astonishing, bold, and captivating performance in the nude. The fact that I was completely unaware of the brazen female nudity in this play before it occurred was striking to me. In fact, I could go off onto a fascinating (and, no doubt, animated) tangent about the gendered treatment of nudity in mainstream media and arts, but I won't. You're welcome.

The play itself rang true on many levels: I believed in the psychosis of the main character; in the events in his life that led to its inflammation; in the people around him who either helped or hindered his development. However, for all these well-treated and poignantly presented factors, the play was--for me--highly flawed.

The main problem, as I saw it, was a literary failing. The playwright, Peter Schaefer (perhaps best known for the incomparably brilliant Amadeus), had a point to make. And he was going to make it, come hell or high water, and he wielded the anvil of prose to make his damn point.

The point was this:
a lack of passion can be as destructive to one's life as a surplus.

Fair enough. But in the illumination of this point, the playwright forced one of his characters to behave in a way that was not believable. The other main focus in Equus, the psychiatrist who treats the disturbed boy, was absurd. If he had been a failure, a man who had tried over and over to save the sanity of disturbed children and met defeat, it might have been believable for him to have a crisis of conscience. But this character was an unequivocal success. He was well-known for having saved scores of children, for having led them out of the darkened, labyrinthine hollows into the light of reason. I cannot believe a man like that would doubt the utility of his work simply because his marriage was a failure.

But as I said, Schaefer wanted to make a point about passion. And make it he did. Just not nearly as well as he did in Amadeus. ;> And anyway, we're--none of us--perfect. Equus still has much to recommend it. It was highly thought-provoking, and this production was beautifully produced and performed. I am glad to have experienced it.

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