CONTROVERSIAL, shocking and utterly riveting – Sir Peter Shaffer’s Tony Award-winning Equus is coming to Melville Theatre in May.
Directed by Lars Jensen, the play is a psychological thriller about a young man who blinds six horses and his psychiatrist who struggles to discover the reasons behind those actions and whether he should cure or normalise him.
Equus is based on a true incident told to Shaffer in a pub and examines the complex and bewildering nature of the human psyche, as the psychiatrist struggles to release the young man from his excruciating psychological torment.
Originally staged in 1973, the play was adapted into a 1977 film with Richard Burton and revived for the West End and Broadway in 2007 with Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role.
“Equus is about passion, religion and society’s expectations of what’s normal,” Jensen said.
“The play has been on my mind for many years – in 1984, I submitted it in a bid to be accepted to the Danish State School for Directors.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get in and, thinking back, the analysis I made of the play when I was 19 is very different and a lot less textured to the things we currently are discovering during rehearsals.
“One of the things that strikes me is how well the play reads off the page and, given it reads so well in script form, just imagine how it will be on stage.”
When Jensen offered actor Oliver Kaiser the part of the young man Alan, he told him he would have to push him hard to get the role right.
“He accepted but was quite confused about what I meant,” he said. “In the play, Alan is experiencing a more in-depth passion that any of us have ever experienced.
“The question is how do we portray that on stage and can we really expect an actor to push themselves so much?
“The really big challenge is that I have to teach at the same time as directing.”
Previously directing musicals at Melville and Stirling Theatres, Jensen has staged A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Chorus Line, Blood Brothers and Sweet Charity.
He also manages Lady Wardle Performing Arts Centre at St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School.
“I was originally asked to do Equus at Melville Theatre in 2014 but I wanted another year to look at it,” Jensen said. “I know it seems strange, given I’d already spent 31 years thinking about it.
“But it’s one thing to be dreaming about staging a play and another to be actually doing it.
“The play is very much an ensemble piece with all the cast on stage constantly, which gives it a great feeling of togetherness.”
Equus plays at 8pm May 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 with a 2pm matinee May 17. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on (08) 9330 4565 or at www.meltheco.org.au.
Please note: the play features semi-nudity and adult themes.
Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.
equus1: Abbey McCaughan, left, Alan Kennedy and Oliver Kaiser are appearing in the shocking and confronting psychological thriller Equus.
equus2-3: The cast of Equus: Lauren Henderson, left, Cary Hudson, Elouise Eftos, Oliver Kaiser, Abbey McCaughan, Sean Bullock, Alan Kennedy and Jay Shaw.
equus4: Jill Mason (Elouise Eftos) is trying to discover her sexuality in Equus with Alan Strang (Oliver Kaiser).
The Melville Theatre Company was the brainchild of David J. Burton who, in 1982, called a meeting for interested people in the community to form a theatre company in the Melville area.
As a result, the Melville Theatre Company was born. The newly formed company's first production was the farce, Not Now Darling. With its second production, The Sound of Music, the young company won the Finley Award for the Best Production of the Year in Community Theatre. Since then, actors and directors have consistently featured in the list of awards at the annual State Drama Festival, now known as Dramafest.
Initially, performances were in the Melville Civic Centre but, since 1987, the venue has been the Roy Edinger Centre, on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.
P: 0417 910 948