Typically summer theater consists of light comedies not a heavy psychological mystery about why a 17 year old English boy would senselessly blind 6 horses in a fit of passion. However, this is no ordinary play – it”s the 1970’s play “Equus” – a modern classic – and actor Alec Baldwin seeking to constantly challenge himself as an actor immediately said “Equus” when asked what play he most wanted to perform. Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer made minor revisions specifically for this performance.
Baldwin stars as one of the two leads, psychologist Dr. Martin Dysart and Sam Underwood serves as his foil, the troubled Alan Strang whose sympathy we gain and whose strange passion we attempt to understand. Indeed, passion is the crux of the play. Baldwin’s Dr. Dysart is a fascinating character for he is a tormented man with romantic longings. Every night he reads books of far away civilizations and dreams of escape. He lives vicariously through his patients who he bitterly realizes it’s his civic duty to anesthetize of passion when it goes awry and wonders if they are any better off for now they are just like him.
22 year old Underwood is yet another enormously talented young British import Hollywood should keep its eyes out for. He was impressive to say the least. Newcomer Georgia Warner skillfully plays Alan’s love interest who attempts to seduce him the night he goes mad. Baldwin is sympathetic as Dysart, and I enjoyed his performance.
An after party took place in the garden behind the theater and an unofficial after party across the street at the Maidstone hotel. Director Sidney Lumet (Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico) was in attendance and playwright Peter Shaffer.
“Equus” runs at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton until July 3rd.