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Review: Equus, at Trafalgar Studios

Kai’s extended period of nudity on stage is memorable to say the least

25 July, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Intense, but magnetic Equus. Pictures: The Other Richard

BURSTING with intensity, sensuality and a suffocating sense of repression, Equus is an unnervingly primal exploration of one teenager’s disturbing connection with the horses in his care.

Armed with the knowledge that 17-year-old Alan Strang has cut out the eyes of several of these horses one night, psychiatrist Martin Dysart is charged with the task of finding out why.

Ethan Kai has quite the challenge on his hands, portraying the complexities of Alan’s fragile character, but Kai breathes life, romanticism and an unexpected amiable quality into the role.

His relationship with fellow stablehand Jill (Norah Lopez Holden) adds a charmingly simplistic, fun tone to proceedings, which is much-needed.

As the troubled psychiatrist, Zubin Varla expertly captures the doctor’s stubborn, almost obsessive pursuit of the truth, revealing his own problems and vulnerabilities along the way. Varla is convincing, captivating and yet subtle.

At two hours and 40 minutes, this amount of intense soul-searching amid an exploration of sexual quirks and religious conditioning may be rather overwhelming for some.

But Ira Mandela Siobhan’s horse characterisation is indisputably brilliant, while Kai’s extended period of nudity on stage is memorable to say the least.

If you can handle the intensity, this production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus may be the most diverting, alarming and magnetic show you’ll see this year.

Until September 7
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