Wednesday, January 30, 2013

60-second review: EQUUS (Curio)

Writing for websites, word count isn't much of an issue, so I wanted to challenge myself to write a couple concise reviews. Here's the second, on Peter Shaffer's classic EQUUS, now onstage in West Philadelphia.
Equus,Peter Shaffer's EQUUS premiered in 1973, and its age shows. A psycho-sexual exploration of insanity, spirituality, and conformity, it continues to appeal to generations of teenagers who identify with Alan Strang (Eric Scolati), a troubled teen committed to an institute for blinding six horses. Once risque, its sexual undertones now veer to passe; once profound, its condemnation of society's progress and consideration of mental illness feel naive. Curio Theatre Company's technically brilliant production (another great set by Paul Kuhn) makes little attempt to update the work. Nevertheless, fine performances by Scolati, Kuhn (as psychiatrist Martin Dysart), and especially Isa St. Clair (in too-brief scenes as love interest Jill Mason) engage, though performance levels drop off in minor roles. And Shaffer's work—a snapshot of 1970s theater rather than an enduring masterpiece—contains depth and philosophy enough for hours of after-show discussion.
Jan 23-Feb 16.