Evocative Equus - Hurstpierpoint College

Evocative Equus

Sixth Form drama students see performance of syllabus text in London
A group of Sixth Form Drama students recently ventured to Trafalgar Studios in London for a performance of syllabus text, Equus.

Ned Bennett’s production immediately establishes what is a consistent emphasis throughout, on the clinical aspects of Peter Shaffer’s play about a child psychiatrist’s attempts to break through to a 17-year-old boy after he maimed several horses. Bare white curtains and a speckled white floor provide a fittingly blank, sterile canvas which was, for the most part, the full set for the entirety of the production.

Likewise, Zubin Varla’s take on Dr Dysart, Shaffer’s narrative protagonist, was equally understated and minimalist, allowing the evocative language of the script to communicate itself. Whilst Ethan Kai’s Alan Strang seemed to represent the show’s colour and life, supported by jarring blasts of sheer light and sound by the technical team, to complement Dysart’s insistence that, although Alan’s bordering-on sexual fascination and religious fixation with horses may be superficially disturbing, what it represents in terms of openness to passion and ability to feel and express may make him more human and normal than Dysart feels himself to be.

Though additionally offset by some atonally juxtaposing scenes of equally minimalistic comedy, calling for a greater deal of input from the supporting cast than the predominantly lead-focussed show may usually demand, it is in the scenes of genuine feeling that this production displays its strengths most prominently. Moments between Alan and Nugget – the horse with which Alan is closest, is played by Ira Mandela Siobhan, without any grand gestures, but instead with mesmerizingly detailed and sensitive movement, that demonstrates a real connection between man and horse, and truly encourages an audience not to judge, but rather try to understand Alan’s complicated position and socially reprehensible behaviour.

“The students and staff in attendance certainly came home to a sleepless night, not because of Alan’s violent behaviour towards the horses but due to the extent to which we could understand his actions,” Liam Harris, Head of Drama.