nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Equus Revolutions

So there we have it. A lot of buildup, a (largely engineered) international uproar, a hugely successful run and a 180-degree turn in the public perception of an actor's career ended last night with the final performance of Equus at the Gielgud Theatre.

I've seen this show so many times now there's not much left to say about it, but I think after 10 years of wanting to see it, the overload of the last few months should have got me over it - for the next ten years anyway. Between the matinee and the evening performance I met a couple of DanRad fans from "the Internet" including caminada_x. There was some discussion about where to go, which is odd since Kate and I had both been muttering "pub" for some time so surely it was obvious? In the end we let them get on with it and went to the pub anyway, along with a friend Kate had brought with her to see the show for the first time and hopefully understand what the obsession was all about. We went to the White Horse across from the theatre - it was lovely to meet Kate in person. Among other things we discussed (of course) the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and our ideas about what would happen (I think Harry's going to die, she thinks he'll live.) At one point I got a bit confused about what I was trying to say, and realised why: The people at the table behind me were having exactly the same conversation we were, and I'd been hearing snippets of their opinions mixed in with ours.

But finally, back to Equus. The final show rocketed along, Richard Griffiths seems to have added lots of new bits into his performance: I noticed that when Alan asks for a cigarette his Dysart now jokingly gasps in horror - perhaps to preempt the reaction some of the audience have at that scene. He's also really expanded on the hint of madness at the end - Dysart's final line is now drawn out with long gasps as he literally imagines the "chinkle-chankle" in his mouth. I'm not entirely convinced this works since he doesn't really hint at Dysart's possible insanity in the rest of the play; and my attempt afterwards to replicate the sound effect his throat made as he gasped and choked, resulted in an unpleasant amount of phlegm.

For the first time, it was actually the DanRad who fluffed a line, although fortunately not an important one. And both his big scenes were the best I've seen him do. The "Fields of Ha Ha" at the end of the first act was streets ahead of any other time I'd seen it, with an impressive amount of physical nuance making up for what he very occasionally still lacks vocally (although that as well has come on in leaps and bounds.) The lights had barely gone down before the audience erupted into applause. As for the climactic scene (yes, the nudie one) he's got that down to a fine art and despite seeing it more times than is probably healthy, it didn't fail to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up - while the way he throws himself up walls and around the stage filled with stomping "horses" says a lot about the meticulous choreography that's gone into that scene. I also felt, although I couldn't find anyone who agreed with me, that at various scenes in the play, not many, Dan has taken on some of the dancers' equine movements in his own portrayal of Alan - a couple of those imperious head-flicks here and there.

The whole cast were really giving it their all for the last show - Jenny Agutter clearly did her voice some damage by the end of it, finally forcing some personality into her cypher of a character who, as I've said before, hasn't been served too well by certain directorial decisions in this production. Most performances have received standing ovations, although usually not until Radcliffe and Griffiths take their bow. Last night as soon as the horses walked onstage everyone was on their feet, and by the time the leads came on the applause was loud enough to raise the roof. The DanRad had tears in his eyes and looked quite shaken, and I don't blame him - I doubt there's going to be a project that'll mark such a dramatic shift in his career. The Potter franchise may have made him a star and a millionnaire but Equus turned him first into a bona fide sex symbol and then, against all expectations, into a respected actor. So the end of the run is bound to take a lot out of him. Griffiths eventually shushed the audience so he could say a few words as it was the last night, mentioning how the production has been evolving throughout its run and how unique the audiences have been, consisting of a real mix of long-time theatre fans (many of whom were at the original production) and people who'd never set foot in a theatre before. As well as being a nice gesture to the audience, Griffiths' speech also seemed to calm Dan down a lot.

So that's that, what's likely to be the biggest theatrical event of 2007 is over. I suppose that means I'll be limiting my theatre trips for a while now... what's that you say? This Thursday you say? Well there's plenty more shows out there while I've spent so much time on just one of them!
Tags: equus, harry potter
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