Friday, December 12, 2008

EG Was A Little Bit Horrified...

...when I told him that I would be posting a mini-review of Equus here. I reminded him that it's perfectly appropriate considering that theatre ranks high on the list of things I like about the universe.

So to address the thing you're all wondering about and get it out of the way, yes, he's naked onstage for a while there at the end. However, I was in the balcony and if you see a guy onstage you're probably seeing him limp, and I think we all know that's not when you're at your best, right guys? So I have no comment on that, ahem, front. That wasn't why I went to see the play. Looking at his taut, 19-year-old backside was no hardship, and he spends a decent chunk of the play shirtless, which also made my day just a little bit brighter. But the reason to see this show is that the kid has got some serious chops.

The character he plays is an angry and disturbed young man. Harry Potter in ...Order of the Phoenix is also an angry young man, but never for one minute did I think I was watching Harry. He's disgustingly young to be as good as he is, though if you think about it, he's been at this for a while now. My friend who accompanied me pointed out that Richard Griffiths, Dan's co-star, also plays Uncle Vernon Dursley and the two of them have been working together for eight years already. Griffiths was quite good, but Dan was the one who really blew us away.

He has an amazing presence. There were a couple of times I noticed him just standing, onstage but preparing to enter another part of the set. I was very impressed with his ability to just stand and take the stage. (Having a bit of training in this myself, I was particularly impressed.) He's able to be beautifully awkward, which is important for this character. Most beautiful of all, though, is his vulnerability. He breaks down in a thoroughly pathetic fashion that just breaks your heart. It makes me really look forward to seeing him in the climactic scenes of ...Deathly Hollows. Then the end of the show comes and the lights are flashing and the "horses" are...I don't remember actually, if they were doing anything. Dan, still naked after what would have been this character's first sexual encounter if it had gone a bit better for him, dashes about the stage blinding the horses. It's a marvelous bit of staging and he gives it his all. I don't get to New York nearly as often as I'd like these days and I don't see much, but I was very glad to see this. It's the kind of show Thespis would approve of if he were around today.

Then comes the curtain call. For one thing, Richard Griffiths, really more the main character than Dan, is damn lucky the director has them come out together. It got a standing ovation the night I was there, but we were standing for Dan. Damn, that kid was good.

I've said "kid" a couple of times in this piece. This time of year, every show in town is collecting for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The cast announced that there were a few ways to give, including putting money in the buckets the "horses" would be holding as we exited. Then they announced an auction. Dan came out with a copy of the script, which the cast had not only autographed but sprinkled thoughts and maybe in-jokes throughout. They had a three minute auction and I think it fetched $2000. To watch Dan during this period was great, too. He was so happy; he practically radiated sunshine. Quite a contrast to the dark, brooding, fragile character he had just played. He has an overwhelming aura of innocence, though, and that's where you get the sensation of youth. I predict a long career for him. I can't say how much of it may be onstage or how much of that may be on this side of the pond, but if I get another chance to see him onstage, I'll count myself lucky.

P.S. Kristi and Flann - please feel free to keep posting when the spirit moves you. I can't say for sure how often I'll pop in.


pistols at dawn said...

Theatre done well can be very good, but there are very few times I've seen it done well. Movies have officially ruined me for the large sweeping actions of the stage.

katrocket said...

It's great to read this review because I'm a fan of Peter Shaffer's work and I've been rather curious about this show. The stupid entertainment media can't seem to get past the "shocking nudity" and actually talk about the performances and the staging. Nicely done.

Dr Zibbs said...


Red said...


Theatre is live. I'll grant you there's bad and lukewarm theatre out there; I've seen plenty of it. But when you see a good show done well (and I've seen plenty such and arguably even been in a few), it's got most movies beat. But there are movies and there are movies. I don't think anyone's going to argue that _Kingpin_ is another _His Gal Friday_ or that there's any comparison between, say, _Transformers_ and _Life is Beautiful_.


Glad at least one of our readers appreciates the info. The review in the NY Times was pretty good, although they didn't like it as much as I did.

Dr. Zibbs,

See paragraph 1.

robin said...

So. Jealous.... Glad you got the chance to see it, though....