Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe (pictured) is confirmed to make his West End debut, starring alongside Richard Griffiths in Peter Shaffer’s controversial modern classic Equus in the New Year (See News, 28 Jul 2006).

According to today’s Daily Mail, Thea Sharrock’s new production will open for a 16-week season at the Gielgud Theatre on 27 February 2007 (previews from 16 February). The newspaper’s Baz Bamigboye also says that the production will be performed in the round, with 60 audience members positioned on stage in a new set designed by the play’s original designer John Napier.

This morning, producer David Pugh told Whatsonstage.com that, while “we are producing it and it will open in February with Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths”, other details about Equus were, at this stage, “supposition”. However, he said, Bamigboye’s piece contains “some good ideas and I may use them”.

Equus - which tells the story of a troubled 17-year-old stable boy who blinds his horses - was originally produced by the National Theatre at the Old Vic in 1973, directed by John Dexter, and starring Alec McCowen as psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Griffiths in the new revival) and Peter Firth as Alan Strang (Radcliffe), the patient. The play transferred to Broadway starring Anthony Hopkins and Firth, where it ran for 1,200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1975.

The controversial drama, which was made into a Hollywood film starring Richard Burton in 1977, is based on a true story. Shaffer (whose other plays include The Royal Hunt of the Sun, revived earlier this year at the National), was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a teenage boy's apparently senseless injury to horses. The play will require Radcliffe to simulate sexual satisfaction while riding naked on a horse.

Radcliffe made his stage debut as a celebrity guest in The Play What I Wrote, also produced by Pugh and Daffyd Rogers. In the film adaptations of JK Rowling's popular books, Richard Griffiths plays the nasty uncle to Radcliffe’s young titular wizard.

Griffiths is a stage veteran, winning a shedload of Best Actor prizes in London and on Broadway for The History Boys, which has just been released as film, in which he recreates his role along with the rest of the Alan Bennett play’s original cast. Griffiths was last seen in the West End in Heroes, another Pugh-Rogers production directed by Gate artistic director Thea Sharrock, who will also direct Equus. Sharrock is also currently represented in the West End by Voyage Round My Father, with Derek Jacobi.

Currently at the Gielgud, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s two-part adaptation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales finishes its extended run on 4 November 2006. It’s followed by the Donmar Warehouse transfer of Peter Morgan’s playwriting debut Frost/Nixon, starring Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, which has a limited three-month season from 15 November 2006 (previews from 9 November) to 3 February 2007.

- by Terri Paddock