Review: Equus

The Rep Theatre Company
August 29th at Pleasance Dome
1 Stars (1 / 5)

Equus by Peter Shaffer is a dark drama touching on relevant issues like the relationship between ritual sacrifice, violence and sexual attraction. The plot is intense, gripping, and full of mysteries waiting to be solved. The decade it was written and premiered, it was nominated for and won numerous awards for Best Play, and once again in the 2009 revival.

Unfortunately, The Rep Theatre Company completely fails to live up to the play’s reputation, and, for the record, should never be attempted by a group of private high school students who lack the understanding of Equus‘ basic themes, the gravity of protagonist Alan Strang’s (Tristan Howle) crimes, and, most of all, the relationships between characters. Exceedingly amateur and basic in its execution, it is difficult to identify the root cause of this production’s failure, be it the cast’s lack of acting training and experience, or Guy Levesley’s seemingly non-existent direction. The entire ninety minutes contain neither tension nor a grasp of the stakes. Rare moments of sound and fury still signify nothing. Actors not in a scene sit on benches around the stage and observe the action, and all of them look bored by their own production. They should be indebted to Howle for carrying the show with his energy and intensity.

Unfortunately there is nothing praiseworthy about the show, and The Rep Theatre Company is strongly encouraged to dig deeper into their imagination and capabilities to explore the depths of Equus and other plays they might perform before taking it on tour.