Alan Strang is a troubled teenager. Not just your average troubled teenager, he’s taken it to the max. His mind has been affected by a passion so intense that it has led him to commit a crime which, in the minds of the masses, is so evil, so hideous, that only a lifetime in prison would be suitable recompense – the blinding of six horses with a metal hoof-pick.
The only alternative to endless incarceration lies in the hands of Martin Dysart, a noted child psychiatrist. He is believed to have the ability to unlock this troubled mind and to find answers to the many questions that surround the incident, but it is very obvious from the outset that this will be no easy task.
Matthew Pattimore is quite simply superb as the disturbed teenager. He swings from moments of unbridled aggression to silently sitting and staring into nothing, from raging against those who try to help him to tenderly embracing his favourite horse, Nugget. His performance is so good that, far from being revolted by him, the audience is encouraged to look past his crime and to see him for what he is, a confused boy overflowing with inner demons.
As the psychiatrist, Malcolm James is equally accomplished. He continues to display an outward professionalism despite fighting some inner demons of his own. Held together by his desire to help the boy he struggles with both his loveless marriage and his unexpected jealousy at the passion which burns brightly inside the teenager.
The trouble with two such strong central performances is that the rest of the London Classic Theatre company could easily become eclipsed if it wasn’t for the fact that they themselves are so strong. Steve Dineen and Anna Kirke playing Alan’s atheist father and ultra-religious mother skilfully introduce facts into the tale, as does Helen Phillips as the stable girl who attempts to become Alan’s first sexual partner.
Another fantastic performance is given by Aidan Downing as the object of Alan’s intense passion, the horse Nugget. He faithfully recreates the movements of the animal with only a gold horse head to help create the creature. From the sound of his “galloping hooves” to the gentle and tender nuzzling of his head against Alan’s, every movement is realistically fashioned.
Quite simply, this is the kind of show for which awards are given. Skilfully written, expertly performed and, with no pun intended, a piece that is well worth seeing.