Harry Potter and the Freaky Horse Play

Greetings from New York! I’m back at the hotel, just a few steps from Times Square and Broadway, where Long-Suffering Boyfriend Michael and I just saw Equus, starring Daniel Radcliffe. Somehow, we got tickets for front row, center, so we had the perfect seats to see Daniel in all his glory. And in case you think I’m only going to talk about the nudity, let me fill you in on a few other points. First, the cast features a surprising collection of fanboy favorites. In addition to Daniel, it also stars Richard Griffiths (aka Uncle Vernon Dursley), Kate Mulgrew (aka Captain Janeway) and T. Ryder Smith (aka Baron Ünderbheit from The Venture Brothers). Briefly, Equus is the story of a troubled young man (Daniel) and the psychiatrist (Griffiths) who tries to discover why he committed the atrocious acts that landed him in a mental hospital. The cast, direction and production design are all fantastic. Daniel gives a really mature and nuanced performance, and I forgot about his most famous role early on. Griffiths also shines as the doctor who envies his patients for their passion, even if it’s inspired by madness. And I particularly enjoyed the clever and evocative portrayal of the stable of horses that play a crucial role in the story. Essentially a group of dancers, they beautifully portray the power, grace and strength of their equine inspirations. Daniel’s interaction with the horses, particularly the lead horse, takes on increasingly homoerotic overtones, but also sets the stage for his growing obsession and its tragic results. (And the hunky dancer/actor didn’t seem to mind playing the horse that Daniel pets, strokes and rides eight times a week.) My only complaint, really, is with the writing. Its self-conscious attempts to let the audience draw its own conclusions leaves too many stray plot threads unresolved.

Now, the good stuff. I admit my first interest in seeing the play was to see Daniel strip down. If the play hadn’t succeeded, that might have been all I had to write about. But since I got wrapped up in the story, the nudity took a back seat to the plot and performances. Having said all that, though, I have to be honest. It was nice. Really nice. More details available upon request.

Tomorrow: Patti Lupone in Gypsy. I understand she gets naked, too. We’ll see how she compares to Daniel.