Photo courtesy of Village Scene
We forever know that we are watching a play and, because of this, the mystery of Alan Strang cannot matter to us.
by Rachel Zuroff
Village Scene Productions is currently presenting Equus at the Rialto Theatre. Equus tells the story of the disillusioned psychiatrist’s, Martin Dysart, quest to understand the reasons that lead the 17 year old Alan Strang to blind six horses. In seeking the answer, Equus deals with the themes of religion, sexuality and what it means to be normal.
Director Paul Van Dyck has staged Equus in three-quarters round on the floor of the Rialto theatre with only some of the action taking place on the proscenium stage. The set and props are minimal. The actors sit among the audience members, themselves watching the play. These devices should lead to intimacy between the audience and the action, but does not. Instead, the highly stylized acting feels forced. It never gathers the audience up into itself and persuades us to accept its lie. We forever know that we are watching a play and, because of this, the mystery of Alan Strang cannot matter to us; it is too easy to dismiss. Van Dyck wants us to question why Strang did what he did. He wants us, as the audience, to participate in the judgement passed on Strang, to question our assumptions about the role and place of normalcy, worship and faith in modern society, but it never succeeds, because it is too easy to answer: Strang did what he did because the playwright wrote him as such.
Thus, despite Noel Burton’s superb elocution as Martin Dysart, Bobby Lamont’s tender vulnerability as Alan Strang and the exquisitely choreographed movements of the chorus members, Equus ultimately fails in being the catalyst leading us to the questions Van Dyck desired us to pose.
Two and a half hours; for mature audiences only.