Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In 1975 EQUUS received the Tony Award for Best Play as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Foreign Play. The 1977 film starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth was followed in 2009 by a Broadway revival, which starred Daniel Radcliffe.
     On the surface Equus appears to be about the coming of age of Alan Strang, a 17-year-old boy, whose neurotic and confused obsession with horses and religion has led to his committing a violent crime.
     The story that unfolds involving his treatment is however, as much that of Dr. Martin Dysart, an impotent child psychiatrist who while wishing to experience a life filled with passion spends all his time ‘curing’ passionately driven mental patients like Alan of their ‘pain’ and leading them to the bland worship of "the god of the Normal.”

L-R: Paul Borrillo and Spencer Althoff

     Paul Borrillo, who stunned Denver with his portrayal of Uncle Peck in Curious Theatre’s “How I Learned to Drive,” portrays Dysart, a man who is burned out both personally and professionally.
     Dysart dreams of the vibrant life of mythological ancient Greece, but finds his own life barren and empty. Borrillo invests this character with a hunger to revive his love for life that’s palpable. Aided in no small part by Peter Shaffer’s excellent writing, Borrillo stuns as he sleuths out the underlying wounds, which are the source of Alan’s vibrant and worshipful mythology.
     Spencer Althoff portrays Alan Strang with a visceral zeal. The onstage relationship Borrillo and Althoff create as doctor and patient builds steadily from a fearful uncommunicative first meeting to one of trust that allows for the unleashing of the fiery intensity of Alan’s rage as he comes to terms with his hideous crime.

                      L-R: Tait Peterson and Spencer Althoff
     Margie Lamb and Clint Heyn portray Alan’s mother and father respectively.
     The scenic design by Michael Duran is created out of unadorned plywood boards. All the locations are merely suggested within the set’s rough-hewn circumference.
     The lighting by Jen Orf, sound by Brian Freeland and costumes by Brenda King are mostly all spot on. King’s choice of drab beiges and tans complement the rustic look of the wooden benches and stable fence quite well. One does, however wonder if Alan’s innocent girl friend Jill, (Victoria Copeland) would really wear sheer black lingerie under her street clothing.
     Plagued with many misfortunes including a change of directors prior to opening one must applaud the success of the production team at the Avenue Theatre.
     A tip of the hat to director Warren Sherrill for taking the reins and providing his considerable directorial expertise to the proceedings.
     Exhilarating and disturbing, EQUUS is a must see for all who like serious dramatic theatre.

                (The play includes adult situations and nudity.)

Equus runs through November 21, at the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Avenue (between Logan and Pennsylvania).  Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p m. and one performance on Sunday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $26.50; $15 on Thursday, Oct 29 and $12 on Sunday, November 15.  Go to avenuetheater.com or call 303-321-5925.passionMarlowe's Musings

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