Harry Potter’s wand

equus.jpg

When I was in high school I took a class called Actor’s Craft. One of the monologues lying around was from a play called Equus by Peter Schaffer. A psychiatrist, Martin Dysart, is telling a colleague about a dream he’d had the night before. In it he’s a Mycenaean high priest presiding over a sacrificial ritual. In front of him stretches a line of children and as each approaches he is grabbed by assistant priests and thrown on an altar. Dysart, in a golden mask, then eviscerates the victim and casts his entrails upon the ground to be scried over by the assistants. The problem is that Dysart is beginning to feel “distinctly naseous” by the process and knows his face is turning green and sweaty behind the mask. He also knows that if the assistants realize this he’ll be the next across the altar. Again and again he cuts the children and soon he feels the mask begin to slip. The other priests can see his green pallor and grab him, throwing him across the altar… and then Dysart wakes up.

This monologue has fascinated me ever since then and I honestly don’t know why. It could be the ritual, the blood, the horror of a nightmare, but when I heard they were staging it on the West End I knew I’d have to go see it. Even better, it turns out the play is THE talk of London since it stars Dan Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, running around naked.

I liked it, it was really well produced and well acted (though I kept worrying that Richard Griffiths, playing the psychiatrist, was going to drop dead on stage), but I’m not sure how I felt about the play itself. See, the main characters are the boy, Alan, who is passionately fixated on horses for a bunch of psycho/religious/sexual reasons, and Dysart, the psychiatrist, who is late middle-aged and becoming disenchanted with his profession and his life. He feels, in contrast to the boy, that he has NO passion, exemplified by his relationship with his wife whom he cares about but with whom he has settled into a drab routine (his wife isn’t a character, just referred to). He says that he’s never in his life felt about anything the passion the boy feels about these horses and envies him for it.

So the theme of the play, and Dysart’s dilemma, seems to be: is it even desirable to “cure” the boy when it means taking away this passion? It’s an indictment of psychiatry turning everyone into drones for the sake of making them “normal”.

My problem with that is the corollary to it: is it right to keep someone in torment because it, by proxy, alleviates the dissatisfaction you have with your own life? I mean, the kid is obviously tortured and if someone gave him the choice he would undoubtedly choose to not have nightmares every night and to not feel impulses to, say, blind horses. There’s a minor character who brings up that point, but the play obviously favors the other side.

The thing is, and why as a play it failed for me, is that it presents these two extremes (keeping the kid passionate and crazy or passionless and normal) and nothing in between, which is far too simplistic. Sure, it makes for better drama, and you really wouldn’t have a play if you alleviated the tension between the two extremes by introducing a compromise, but I can’t buy into the dilemma if it’s an artificial one.

What else? Oh yeah, Harry Potter’s bits. I know that’s what you really want to know about you pervs. We were too far back to see anything clearly. Whether that’s a statement on our seats or Harry’s wand I can’t help you.

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~ by kellly333 on April 11, 2007.

4 Responses to “Harry Potter’s wand”

  1. Kelly, only you would go to a this show and give us three paltry lines about the goods, preceeded by 6 or 7 paragraphs of erudite analysis.

    I’m so proud of you.

  2. This play was amazing, i just saw it yesterday afternoon. I recommend everyone who hasn’t seen it to go see it. Yes, there is nudity and a sex scene. Depending on where you sit I guess, you see everything. At some parts you can’t see anything though because they have lights dimmed there, and Dan crawls up a lot and is running around. The nude scene is probably for 4 or 5 minutes, and its not as bad as everyone has been saying. The play overall= fantastic.

  3. Wow that is so nasty sounding seeing him naked!! but i think it looks like a

  4. good show

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