Thursday, March 01, 2007

Did Critics Take To Remount Of Equus?

Did Critics Take To Remount Of Equus?

Two nights ago, 17 year old actor Daniel Radcliffe made his West End debut in the new revival of Peter Schaffer's Equus.

Alongside veteran actor Richard Griffiths as his shrink Dysart, Radcliffe has taken a major departure from his previous roles by portraying a psychotic stable boy named Alan Strang, who enjoys sexual gratification while riding horses he has blinded. The reviews were across the board.

In offering up four out of five stars, The Guardian's Michael Billington appears to be the most enthusiastic: "The revelation of this revival is that Daniel Radcliffe really can act....His performance also helps to camouflage the fact Peter Shaffer's celebrated ritual drama sometimes betrays its early 1970s origins....Griffiths lends the part his own air of vulnerable humanity; and by the end, although I dispute Dysart's arguments about reductive normality, I was moved by Griffiths's genuine affection for his patient."

Although he takes issue with the source material, Charles Spencer of The Telegraph says this Equus "packs a terrific theatrical punch in Thea Sharrock's powerful revival...Daniel Radcliffe brilliantly succeeds in throwing off the mantle of 'Harry Potter,' announcing himself as a thrilling stage actor of unexpected range and depth....Despite minimal previous theatrical experience Radcliffe here displays a dramatic power and an electrifying stage presence that marks a tremendous leap forward....Richard Griffiths...once again reveals what a superb actor he is. He conducts the psychotherapy sessions with Radcliffe with a beautiful tenderness, understanding and humour that proves deeply moving."

In offering three out of five stars, The Times' Benedict Nightingale is lukewarm: "Radcliffe proves an assured actor and makes a perfectly able equimaniac. He can do aggression and pain, and, oddly, is lacking only in the sense of magic and wonder the part demands. The second is that, though gripping and theatrically skilful, Equus is at root dated, pretentious and even a bit pernicious."

Although he says the premise "works as theatre" in his three-out-of-five star review, Nicholas de Jongh of The Evening Standard appears chafed: "Richard Griffiths is far too affable, winsome and relaxed as the psychiatrist Dysart....Griffiths...packs no emotional punch...while Radcliffe's touching, little-boy lost Alan never convinces you he is wild with desire for horses or girls."

In a mostly negative review, The Independent's Paul Taylor notes: "In the event, Radcliffe acquits himself well. He is not the most expressive of actors, and his stage presence will take time to evolve; but from the moment he enters the psychiatrist's office, shoulders hunched, eyes narrowed and singing advertising jingles to avoid questioning, he cuts a compelling figure. As the evening goes on, there are moments when he touches, even if not tugs at, the heart strings....If the production is well served by Radcliffe, he is not that well served by the production....As the psychiatrist, Richard Griffiths commands the stage as he always does; but his was not an interpretation I warmed to."

Of course at this stage, the reviews are rather inconsequential. Nothing will stop the throngs of "Harry Potter" fans and those curious over the unveiling of a new stage star from seeing this show.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Is It Just Me, Or...(Part II) (February 21, 2007)
Barely Trotter? Daniel Radcliffe Set for Equus Mounting (July 28, 2006)

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