Theatre Review: Equus At Trafalgar Studios

Equus, Trafalgar Studios ★★★★☆

By Chris Bridges Last edited 60 months ago

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Last Updated 16 July 2019

Theatre Review: Equus At Trafalgar Studios Equus, Trafalgar Studios 4
Photo: The Other Richard

Equus is one of those plays that’s been knocking around for years (46, to be precise). Beloved by small theatre troupes (a handful of actors, a few horse masks and you’re good to go) and infamous for its prolonged nude scene where Daniel Radcliffe showed off Harry Potter’s wand on stage in 2007, can it still be as jarring today as it was in 1973? The short answer is: without a doubt, if done well.

Photo: The Other Richard

Director du jour Ned Bennett (An Octoroon, Pomona) bins the papier-mâché horse masks, delves into the homo-erotic subtext and hits us with a claustrophobic white curtained box, blasted by occasional searing flashes of light and sound. Cleverly, here, the horses are brought to life by dance and movement rather than costumes. This may sound naff, but it’s actually a hypnotic feat of muscular contortion.

Photo: The Other Richard

Zubin Varla plays the jaded adolescent psychiatrist, facing ‘the menopause’ of his career, as a bundle of nervous energy complete with tics and twitches. The subject of his fascination, the 17 year old boy who’s maliciously blinded six horses, is relative-newcomer Ethan Kai, a man-child who’s both disturbing and endearing.

Photo: The Other Richard

This version of the dark psychodrama absolutely nails it in a nerve jangling couple of hours that is definitely worthy of a rosette or two.

Equus, Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall,  SW1A 2DY. Tickets £25-80, until 7 September 2019.