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Peter T Chattaway

Equus (opens March 2007)

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'Harry Potter' Actor to Be Naked on Stage

Daniel Radcliffe will strip off his Harry Potter eyeglasses and robes for his London stage debut next year.

The 17-year-old actor, who plays the bespectacled schoolboy wizard in the Hollywood adaptations of J.K. Rowling's novels, will star as a troubled stableboy in Peter Shaffer's "Equus." . . .

In one scene the actor playing Strang is required to simulate sexual ecstasy while riding a horse naked. But Davies said nudity was not the focus of the play.

Richard Griffiths, who plays Harry's Uncle Vernon in the films, is lined up to play the psychiatrist who interviews the troubled youth.

Associated Press, July 28

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It's been a while since I read the play / saw the film, so correct me if I'm wrong, but is there not also a sex scene with a woman in there somewhere? In the original stage version, I believe she was played by the woman who went on to play Sean Penn's mother in Dead Man Walking and Jake Gyllenhaal's mother in Brokeback Mountain, and in the film version, she was played by Jenny Agutter of Walkabout and Logan's Run and The Railway Children and An American Werewolf in London fame.

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It's been a while since I read the play / saw the film, so correct me if I'm wrong, but is there not also a sex scene with a woman in there somewhere?

Well, yes, :spoilers:

but it's coitus interruptus, or coitus never-quite-get-started-us. The script calls for both Alan and Jill to remove their duds -- and Shaffer won't allow the play to be performed without nudity -- but then Alan decides he can't go through with sex because the horses are watching. Then he flips out and blinds the horses with a hoofpick.

:spoilers:

Equus poses important and disturbing questions about passionate religious belief, but "recommend" and "endorse" are words I have a hard time applying to it.

I can't really picture Richard Griffiths as Dysart. But I can see Radcliffe playing Alan, especially if he's concerned about breaking out of the kid-flick mold. I'm sure that people who already oppose the Harry Potter films for religious reasons will try to use this as ammo.

Funny how a kids' public TV host can lose her job for having done a racy video, but I'm betting Radcliffe doesn't lose the rest of the Potter films over this -- unless that's what he wants.

Edited by mrmando

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Yeah, Equus is tricky/sticky stuff. Powerful, provocative (before that was a euphomism for mildly pornographic) and very challenging.

There was a Fringe show here in Orlando called Equus on Ice. Makes me smile everytime I think of it.

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Equus poses important and disturbing questions about passionate religious belief, but "recommend" and "endorse" are words I have a hard time applying to it.

I was in a high school production of Equus (sans nudity; I wonder if Shaffer will go after my high school if he reads this) as Alan's atheistic father. That was a stretch for me, lemme tell ya, and I'm sure I portrayed him as a snarling villain, since I certainly didn't know any nice atheists when I was in high school.

What intrigues me about the play is the way it doesn't just question passionate religious belief, but absolutism of all stripes. Neither Alan's religious mother nor militantly atheistic father are portrayed as the villain; rather, it's the struggle between these two absolutist approaches that produces Alan's psychosis (if that's an apt categorization).

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I was in a high school production of Equus (sans nudity; I wonder if Shaffer will go after my high school if he reads this) as Alan's atheistic father. That was a stretch for me, lemme tell ya, and I'm sure I portrayed him as a snarling villain, since I certainly didn't know any nice atheists when I was in high school.

Interesting. I've seen it on stage once, and I recall the father being portrayed much differently: a sort of broken-down, bewildered fellow, still committed to his labor union and his atheism, but completely overwhelmed by the unfortunate events. The parents blame each other for Alan's problems, don't they?

What intrigues me about the play is the way it doesn't just question passionate religious belief, but absolutism of all stripes. Neither Alan's religious mother nor militantly atheistic father are portrayed as the villain; rather, it's the struggle between these two absolutist approaches that produces Alan's psychosis (if that's an apt categorization).

Very apt analysis, although I think the play itself doesn't give us any neat little answers. (At the end, Dysart has that heartbreaking speech about how he can "cure" Alan but he wonders at the same time if it's really a cure or just domestication...)

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Interesting. I've seen it on stage once, and I recall the father being portrayed much differently: a sort of broken-down, bewildered fellow, still committed to his labor union and his atheism, but completely overwhelmed by the unfortunate events. The parents blame each other for Alan's problems, don't they?

Our production (and the film version, I think) played up the father's anger - at his wife, for her religious beliefs, at his lot in life, etc. One scene, a flashback on the beach, really highlights the father's anger when he accosts a horseman interacting with his son. (I remember that scene so well because I had a sore throat for days afterward ... further prooof that I overacted to the hilt, and screamed bloody murder at my poor co-star.) Yes, I think the parents each blame the other's worldview for Alan's problems. I could easily see each production playing up one or the other character's villainy.

One scence I find remarkable, if only because it's usually Christians who are portrayed as sexual hypocrites, is when Alan sees his father coming out of a porn theater. I think this is right before the non-sexual sex scene in the stables, but I could be wrong. Kind of fascinating, though, that for Alan, this is a revelation about his very uptight father who, even though he's an atheist, apparently enforces a strict sexual morality (or am I imagining this about the character? Is that ever spelled out in the play/movie?)

Very apt analysis, although I think the play itself doesn't give us any neat little answers. (At the end, Dysart has that heartbreaking speech about how he can "cure" Alan but he wonders at the same time if it's really a cure or just domestication...)

Right, it is pretty ambiguous about the root cause of Alan's crime. And Dysart's crisis of faith over his own effectiveness really leaves the viewer with a bleak outlook .... almost a nihilistic outlook. At least that's how I remember feeling about it at the time.

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Right, it is pretty ambiguous about the root cause of Alan's crime. And Dysart's crisis of faith over his own effectiveness really leaves the viewer with a bleak outlook .... almost a nihilistic outlook. At least that's how I remember feeling about it at the time.

One of my most vivid memories of a theatrical experience is seeing this play on Broadway with Anthony Hopkins as Dysart. He was absolutely riveting.

And as I recall it, Dysart's crisis is partly due to doubting the value of any "cure" he may be able to provide to Alan, while being unable to offer him any substitute for the faith and passion Alan's demented "worship" has provided. Dysart is disturbed by his own lack of faith in anything transcendent as well. So the audience is left with that implied question--why do we seem to need God? It didn't strike me as nihilistic, exactly, but more--are these our only choices? Madness or "normal" dullness?

Edited by BethR

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