Article Title:Theatre: Equus, at Glen Eden Playhouse
Author or Credit:Larry Jenkins
Published on:20th April 2007 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1681
Text:Equus, by Peter Shaffer Peach Theatre Company Dir: Jesse Peach Playhouse Theatre, Glen Eden Until Saturday 21 April It's always good to see a revisiting of ‘Equus', and each time I'm reminded that you can't keep a good play down. It's become a 20th century classic, not undeserved, but its chief merit is that it's good theatre. In Peach Theatre's production at the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden (wonderful venue, by the way) I think it was a mistake to translate it to New Zealand. It's as English a play as Roger Hall's plays are New Zealand, and the turns of phrase, even some of the phrases themselves (…it was grating to hear Patrick Wilson, for instance deliver his mantra-like “…If you receive my meaning” in a kiwi accent), are firmly entrenched in the UK English vernacular. But such is the mettle of this work that even those major faults can't keep it from working in the theatre. As Martin Dysart, Phil Adams is as wooden as an artist's mannequin, though he sounds and looks quite stunning, perhaps a bit too well groomed and slick for the bored and disillusioned psychiatrist and husband Dysart has become by the time the events of this story occur. He needed a cardie. This part cries for subtlety, sarcasm, resignation and the kind of authority not of the school teacherish kind Adams brings to it, but rather the kind born of years of experience in a profession not for the faint-hearted. As Alan Strang, Ashley Hawkes is stunning. He runs the gamut of emotions from catatonic to hysterical so well that he sweeps the action and the lines along with him. As his mum, Annie Whittle has caught the uptight, middle-class snob that is Dora on the wing and was totally convincing with her British accent and her hand-wringing angst. The rest of the speaking cast – Elaine Vaughan as the magistrate Hesther; Beth Allen as the girl Jill; and Sarah Gallagher as the Nurse, gave quite competent performances. The “horses” led by the breathtakingly physical Steven A Davis as Nugget, and by the way in a speaking role as the Young Horseman, makes, through that muscular physicality, the erotic scenes between Nugget and Alan so intense as to cause one to blush. The other “horses” – David Mitchell, also in a small speaking role as Harry, the stable owner; and Rohan Glynn, Russell Golding, Vasa Tasele and Karlos Wrennall, evoke the majesty of horses in their finely-observed stylistic actions and pace of movement. Tamsyn Russell's choreography was keenly successful here. I'd like to make special mention of the atmospheric score by Anthony Young, which aided the crucial horse scenes in seeming properly dreamlike and seen through mist. Congratulations to both Jesse Peach, the director/producer and to Steve Peach, designer, for tackling this difficult and very popular work and making it come off. In all, this is a wonderful revival and shouldn't be missed. Larry Jenkins - 20th April 2007    
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