Directed by Gate artistic director Thea Sharrock (currently represented in the West End with the Donmar transfer of her revival of John Mortimer’s A Voyage Round My Father, starring Derek Jacob), Equus will be designed by the play’s original designer John Napier, with lighting by David Hersey, sound by Gregory Clarke and movement by Scarlett Mackmin. It’s produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers. Booking for Equus opens on Sunday 12 November 2006. Ticket prices range from £19.50 to £49.50.
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 Sharrock’s revival) and Peter Firth as Alan Strang (Radcliffe), the patient. The play transferred to Broadway with Anthony Hopkins and Firth, running for 1,200 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Play in 1975. Two years later, it was made into a film starring Richard Burton.
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 playwright recalls, in a quote repeated on the website for the new production: “One weekend I was driving with a friend through the bleak countryside. We passed a stable. Suddenly he was reminded by it of an alarming crime, which he had heard about recently at a dinner party in London. He knew only one horrible detail, and his complete mention of it could barely have lasted a minute – but it was enough to arouse in me an intense fascination.”
The drama requires Radcliffe to simulate sexual satisfaction while riding naked on a horse. The 17-year-old made his stage debut as a celebrity guest in The Play What I Wrote, also produced by Pugh and Rogers. In the film adaptations of JK Rowling's popular books, stage veteran Richard Griffiths plays the nasty uncle to Radcliffe’s young titular wizard.
Griffiths - who has won a shedload of Best Actor prizes in London and on Broadway for The History Boys, which has just been released as film - was last seen in the West End in Heroes, another Pugh-Rogers production also directed Thea Sharrock.
Currently at the Gielgud, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s two-part adaptation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales finishes its extended run on Saturday (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 Caroline Ansdell