Brilliant staging of Equus a must see at the Chandler Studio Theatre

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amy1101BY AMY LYONS

If you want to see great theatre done in an exceedingly small space, go see the Production Company’s “Equus” at the Chandler Studio Theatre Center in North Hollywood.

The intimate, 40ish seat theatre is packed with creativity for this soul-searing production, which includes a rotating stage; artfully crafted, wire-woven horse heads, some version of which are used in all productions of the play; and powerful performances that threaten to blow the roof off the tiny theatre.

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Penned by Peter Shaffer in 1973, “Equus” is a psycho-drama of the darkest sort, centering on Alan Strang (Patrick Stafford) a deranged 17-year-old who gouges out the eyes of a half dozen horses. Trying to unravel the violent events is child psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Jim Hanna) whose delving into Strang’s mind reveals the teenager’s erotic and religious obsession with horses. The more Dysart digs into Strang’s damaged psyche, the more he begins to question his own dull life and the true ramifications of his profession. As Strang opens up about his fierce attraction to horses, Dysart doubts he can save the boy by relieving him of an obsession, however fanatical, that stirs his blood and allows him to be fully alive. Stuck in a sexless marriage, Dysart begins to envy the boy and feels guilty about his intentions to ‘cure’ him and reduce him to a ‘normal’ person with unremarkable goals.

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Director August Viverito grabs hold of this script with full-fledged gusto, mining all of its dark corners with gut-wrenching success. Stafford is a stand out as Strang, a role that Danielle Radcliffe of “Harry Potter” fame played on Broadway in a run that closed in February. Stafford’s cool, blue-eyed stare and evil smirk are scary reminders that this twisted teen is capable of unspeakable violence, while his fragile frame and skittish stance remind us he’s a frightened child with a severely bruised mind. Taking risks throughout the entire show, Hanna gets down to the vulnerable core of Dysart, a role that’s been played by Anthony Hopkins and Leonard Nimoy to name a few. Bringing devastating doses of shame and longing to Dysart’s empty shell of a doctor, Hanna is an exquisite choice to play the famous role.

Through September 5 at the Chandler Studio Theatre, 12443 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood. Call (800)838-3006. www. theprodco.com

Amy Lyons is a professional freelance journalist and theatre critic and a member of the Drama Critics Circle. with a degree in Theatre Arts and English from UMass, Boston. She started her journalism career at The Boston Globe. Her articles, theatre reviews and photos regularly appear in numerous. publications, including the Beverly Press, Valley Life Magazine, the Santa Monica Mirror and www.nohoartsdistrict.com

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • http://la.foodblogging.com/author/maxmillion MaxMillion

    Fantastic review! You really got my attention with your opening line – “If you want to see great theatre done in an exceedingly small space…”

    I’ve always wanted to see a good production of this infamous play. Thanks!

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