Equus

Tue 13th – Thu 15th March 2012

reviews

George Johnston

at 01:34 on 14th Mar 2012

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This week the Mumford theatre is giving the people of Cambridge a strong production of a strong play. Neither the script nor the show are flawless – in particular the discussion of philosophical ideas by Schaffer is worse handled than the driving narrative of the play – but together they certainly provide a good evening’s entertainment.

The staging was perhaps the strongest element of the production. Aside from the unfortunate distance of 3 metres of unlit stage between the audience and the actors – perhaps an unavoidable consequence of a touring show that must adapt to many spaces – Michael Cabot and his team have done an excellent job. The lighting is used incredibly effectively to conjure up the different settings which need to switch back and forth in an instant, given the volatility of the script. Similarly the set – consisting of curved benches that were made to appear like they were made of stone or marble – was manipulated well to give a vivid impression of completely different locations.

The acting was also of a high level, with Matthew Pattimore, playing the protagonist Alan Strang, standing above the others. Generally the male actors were stronger than the female ones, but Pattimore managed to rise above the level of his peers in capturing Alan’s intensive inwardness. He even managed to make a girl behind me whisper rather loudly to her friend “ooo scary” during his second scene on stage.

The general concentration and commitment of the company is also to be commended – all cast members remained on stage for the entire play, fixedly watching the action along with audience when not in character. The physicalisation of the various horses so central to the play was also impeccably achieved.

The name Equus might be, for many, synonymous with imagined images of what Daniel Radcliffe’s member might have looked like during the West End run a few years ago. However, if you are able to ascertain where on earth the Mumford Theatre and Anglia Ruskin actually is, then I would urge you to see this production which thankfully leaves both the spectre of Radcliffe’s genitalia, and his shitty acting, at the stage door.

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