‘Equus’ worth the trip to Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

‘Equus’ worth the trip to Carbondale

Take a deep breath, and then please go to see “Equus” at Carbondale’s Thunder River Theater Co. It is one of those rare theatrical performances that can leave you speechless, as it did me.

This awe-inspiring production transports the audience to a powerful world of parables and psychoses. You’ll peer into the closely guarded relationships between psychiatrist and patient, reality and fantasy, sexual repression and violence, religion and salvation. It’s like a walk on the wild side of the human mind.

Thunder River’s Corey Simpson, executive artistic director and director of “Equus,” brings out the best in the actors. They’re treading into the gut-wrenching and colliding worlds of violent misfit teenager, Alan Strang, and the deepest, darkest emotions of therapist Dr. Martin Dysart.

The horse characters are portrayed in symbolic, metal cage-style horse heads and elevated horseshoes that make the familiar clip-clop sound of hooves striking the ground. Their stoic expressions hide the fears of prey animals. Will these humans hurt me? And, unfortunately, in “Equus” they do.

This is a brave play, testing the audience and actors’ commitments to playwright Peter Shaffer’s vision. The play opened in 1973 in London, and the following year made its debut on New York City’s famed Broadway Theater District. Counter-culture themes were in evidence all over the country. Shaffer successfully brings the crushing plight of the unconventional mind to the live stage.

Some might call this artistic work overwhelming, frightening, horrific or sad.

I just call it great.

Roberta McGowan