Equus - Segal Centre of Arts

Arts Etctera -By Walter J. Lyng -Exploding out of the Gate

There are many who likely thought that opening a theatre season with Peter Shaffer's Equus was a Gamble. Although this play is highly lauded and has experienced a re-birth in the recent years thanks to the high-profile of the Broadway and London Production.

Equus tells of 17 years old Alan Strang (Dan Jeannotte) who is sent in for psychiatric counseling following his crime of blinding horses. Martin Dysart (Jean Marchand) treating the troubled youth discovers the Strang's story of religious and sexual obsession with horses unfolds.

Dysart's own world begins to fall apart as he is forced to question his own purpose and convections.

Not enough can be said about the two male leads of the piece. Given the unenviable task of conveying both a shattered psyche as well as physical, emotional and spiritual ecstasy , Jeannotte manages to capture the incredibly dramatic role of Alan, Marchand, meanwhile, is simply magnificent in the role of Dysart. An amazing arch to behold, Marchand takes the audience along a journey that starts with a world-weary mildly cynical psychiatrist and which ends with acompletely broken man who is no longer sure as to where the line is drawn between sanity and insanity.

The supporting cast shines too with winning performances turned in by Daniel Lillford and Ellen David as strang's conflicted yet loving parents. Susan Glover excels as Hester Salomon, a colleague of Dysart and a magistrate who brings out yet another side to the character. In the role of Jill Mason, a young woman who Alan is fond of, Patricia Summersett takes part in one of the most intense moments on stage and does a great job of it. Special mention,of course, must be made of Benjamin Hatcher, Paul Antoine Taillefer, Gabriel Painchaud, David Rowan and simon Vermeulen who depicted the play's horses in a distinctly impressionistic fashion.

The production's director Domy Reiter- Soffer needs to be commended for the vision he brought to this piece, especially during the moments of physical interaction between Alan and the horses, which is marked by grace and fluidity by all involved.

Lastly, the set designer John dinning has done a great job here in creating a set which is simultaneously minimal and elaborate, full of clashing straight lines and curves, as if visually conveying the interior conflictof the protagonists.