“Equus” News RoundUp: Broadway Debut Tonight


Sep 26, 2008

Posted by EdwardTLC

As readers will remember, actor Dan Radcliffe (Harry Potter) will be stepping onto the Broadway stage this evening with his Harry Potter co-star Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon) for the formal opening of the play “Equus.” Preview performances of the Peter Shaffer play began earlier this month at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City, which will house the revival of “Equus” for its limited 22 week engagement. There are now a slew of reports from the play’s opening online. First up, USA Today has a review of the play online, which gives the play three out of four stars. Of the play and the performances by Radcliffe and Griffiths, the paper notes:

It’s a credit to Radcliffe, his estimable co-star Richard Griffiths and director Thea Sharrock that this Equus transcends the more frustrating elements of the text. In less able hands, Dysart and Alan might be written off as another gifted but troubled shrink and his gifted but troubled charge, but Griffiths and Radcliffe give them rich, real inner lives.

The younger actor evinces Alan’s shield of precocity and hostility, then movingly reveals the tender wounds beneath it. Griffiths’ stringent Dysart defies the sentimentality woven into the heavier passages, enhancing the production’s authority and dignity.

The AP has a report online which also notes Mr. Radcliffe’s performance in the play, saying, in part: “The young actor’s voice is strong, and Radcliffe doesn’t shrink from the physicality of the part. That includes doffing all his clothes during the play’s climactic moments. But then, he literally throws himself into the role in a production chock full of startling, imaginative theatrics.”

The report continues, noting the production as a whole, in addition to the rest of the cast. Quoteage:

Director Thea Sharrock, taking a cue from the original staging, has given the play a compelling, arenalike flavor. Some audience members sit in two tiers above the stage and look down on the action. The story is played out on a physically spare set (designed by John Napier) containing a collection of moveable black cubes that serve as furniture. The exquisite lighting, much of it ominous shadows, is by David Hersey.

Far better are the brief scenes between Alan and the young woman who works at the stable. She’s portrayed by the appealing Anna Camp, whose unaffected naturalness is a welcome anecdote to some of the play’s more emotionally florid family confrontations.

Visually, there are some stunning effects. “Equus” celebrates ritual, particularly in its portrayal of the horses. These splendid steeds are mimed by a half-dozen actors wearing horse masks of caged steel and high steel hoofs. They stalk the stage at various points during the action. Their movements, created by Fin Walker, are sinuous, almost erotic in nature.

Additional reviews are also online from the New York Daily news, which gives the play three out of five stars and calls Mr. Radcliffe “terrific and gives a passionate performance.” Reuters and the NY Sun have reviews online now as well.

Prior to tonight’s performance, Dan spoke briefly about the role, and said the following in regards to fans who have remarked to him the differences between this role and Harry Potter: “I wanted to say, ‘See him the way you should always see him, as a character ” just like Alan.’ I hope to play as many characters as I can. I’ll keep coming back to the stage and film for as long as they’ll have me.”

Update: The New York Times now has an extensive theater review online. It begins by saying:

The young wizard has chosen wisely. Making his Broadway debut in Thea Sharrock’s oddly arid revival of Peter Shaffer’s “Equus’ which opened Thursday night at the Broadhurst Theater, the 19-year-old film star Daniel Radcliffe steps into a mothball-preserved, off-the-rack part and wears it like a tailor’s delight ” that is, a natural fit that allows room to stretch. Would that the production around him, first presented in London, showed off Mr. Shaffer’s 1973 psychodrama as flatteringly as it does its stage-virgin star.

The complete review can be read here.

Further information on the play and ticket information can be found right here, as well as on Telecharge.com.

27 Responses to “Equus” News RoundUp: Broadway Debut Tonight

Avatar Image says:

I was confident that Dan will give a splendid performance but it still is nice to hear the critics give him the thumbs up. Way to go Dan! You’re now officially a Broadway star. Love the reviews. One even said that he outspaced Richard Griffiths, which was a lovely feat considering that Uncle Vernon is a Tony winner and the central character of the play to boot.

Avatar Image says:

Whoever didn’t give it 4/4 or 5/5 doesn’t know real theater and should no be a critic.

That show was simply amazing. Not only were Dan’s and Richard Griffith’s performances outstanding, but everyone else was amazing. The end of act one of intense and scary, the dialogue was spectacular, and …. just everything was so brilliant. Who can give this less than a perfect rating, seriously????

Avatar Image says:

someone who has seen better plays perhaps?

Avatar Image says:

All the reviews are very positive for Daniel, I’m very happy for him. He has worked very hard instead of spending his time in parties, premiers and tv shows like most young actors seem to do.

“Radcliffe is a shockingly good serious actor, and delivers what is perhaps the best celebrity Broadway debut in recent memory. He manages to capture Alan’s internal and external conflicts convincingly and checks his “celebrity” at the door to become one of the ensemble. It’s a shame that he’s not served very well by Sharrock’s production.” http://media.www.hofstrachronicle.com/media/storage/paper222/news/2008/09/25/BSection/Equus.May.Star.harry.But.No.Magic.Here-3450504.shtml

“Radcliffe, the big draw in this revival, demonstrates that he’s moved beyond his “Harry Potter” adolescence into a serious theater career. Playing a deeply neurotic, desperate teen with no prospects, he stays focused on his therapist, moving from terrified indifference to deep respect.” http://ny.metro.us/metro/entertainment/article/Harry_is_just_wild_about_those_horses/13802.html

Avatar Image says:

“Radcliffe is a shockingly good serious actor, and delivers what is perhaps the best celebrity Broadway debut in recent memory.”

That’s one the reviews that I simply love! Many critics even said Dan outshone Griffiths who was “deeply disappointing” for some. GO Dan! We’re all waiting for that Tony Nomination.

Avatar Image says:

anon, yes you are right, but to the theatre goer ,who’s to say that’s not the best play they’ve seen, or indeed the first play they’ve seen. In a way that serves to point out the need for critics. Are they necesscary? How many times have any of us been to see a play/concert’film etc to read a review and wonder if we’ve seen the same thing! Yet constanly we await their views and won’t believe our own.

Avatar Image says:

Congratulations to Radcliffe and the whole cast. As I’ve said before, all of these young HP actors deserve every success. In a business where the law of averages suggest at least one of them should be in rehab or jail by now, it’s to their credit they’ve avoided the traps. Long may it continue.

Avatar Image says:

It’s not really that we we don’t believe our own opinion or judgment. It’s just that the judgment of Professional critics carry more weight than our own. At the end of the day, it’s their opinion that matters in the sense that, it can influence the judgment of both the audience and the executives. And let’s face it, they’d been at it for some time and have seen dozens of plays or movies in a week. Unlike us who only watch the films and plays we like, they do it on a professional and regular basis. They’re not there to enjoy the show but to give it a judgment. (That’s why I can understand why Dan didn’t win a Laurence Olivier award for Equus back in LOndon. There were other plays that also did great and in the end, there can only be one winner. )

Critics don’t have the same power they used to have but they are still influential and let’s face it. They kinda legitimize your worth as a movie or actor. They have given the stamp of approval for Dan’s acting and that is already a feather to his cap. It’s sometimes easy to please the casual movie or theateregoer but harder to please the hard nosed cirtic.

Avatar Image says:

Well, there is not a need for debate here, because both critics and audience agree the play is worth the ticket, specially for the acting, specially for Daniel’s performance. There are mixed reviews for Richard, not because of his acting but because his approach of the character, and some debate about Shaffer’s plays, but they are all very positive about Daniel. These are critics reviews so I’ll post a theatre lover one from Broadway World forums:

“Back from opening night. I must concur with my initial review from September 5th and say that this production (and the play itself) is truly brilliant. Radcliffe is giving a Tony-worthy performance. I enjoyed Griffiths’ acting (as I did the first time), but I do think it would work better if he were more attractive (especially since Radcliffe asks him “Do you have any women on the side?” – How is the audience supposed to believe that he would actually ask that?). Despite what some of the reviews have said, I think Mulgrew is stunning as Hester, and I even enjoyed Anna Camp’s performance much more than at the first preview. The horses: brilliant. Enough said. ... The audience loved it and regardless of what the reviews are, I plan on recommending this show to everyone I know. A wonderful night out at the theater. Congrats to Daniel, Richard and the rest of the cast and crew. I am planning on seeing this at least one more time before it closes.”

Avatar Image says:

The horses move almost erotically? Whats this play about again Sounds like the horses should get a Tony award.

Those are wonderful reviews for Dan in particular, as was in London. Congrats, thanks for that “Joe Public” review. The bit about Griffith being more handsome and having women on the side..LOL!

Avatar Image says:

I’ve read most of the critics’ reviews posted online but it’s a treat to read one from the perspective of a “normal” theatergoer. ALL of these reviews praised Dan’s actingbut there was one that said that although Dan was great, he didn’t fully fathom the character’s angst. I think this is more the script’s fault and the directors fault. That must be the change they made to make this production more suited to the present generation. I get the impression that Peter Firth, the original Alan Strang was more explosive in his lines and actions while the present version is of an Alan Strang that is tightly strung. Same with Dysart who was more subdued now than in the original script back in the 70’s. Pity that that there are some bad reviews of Richard’s performance but some also praised him as the saving grace of the play along with Dan. Congrats to all of the cast. And Rock on Dan! May we see you with a Tony next year…

Avatar Image says:

Many times I have enjoyed a critically panned movie/play which gave me a greater feeling of enjoyment and discovering that hey, this aint so bad. But the downside is that they can raise your expectations so high that you become very disappointed in a movie/play that is actually still pretty good. Just a few days ago I watched Speed Racer on DVD knowing it is a b.o flop and critically panned. It ended up being one of my second favourite movie this year and I have an overwhelming love for it. But when I saw Wall E, I was very disappointed. It is a cute film and in fact it is a very good film that I should have thoroughly enjoyed but I went into it too overhyped expecting something great which killed my enjoyment slightly.

So here’s a tip, enjoy the critics’ reviews and lower your expectations to maximise your enjoyment. Also, now that we know the horses move erotically, approach the play with caution…

Avatar Image says:

I adore Dan Radcliffe, and I rejoice in his success. He’s born to act, and he’s doing a brilliant job. Could I be forgiven for raising one question that strikes me at this point? I notice that the trio, as soon as they get outside Harry Potter, seem to do just fine in the acting department (Equus, Driving Lessons, Ballet Shoes). Yet all three have sometimes received less than entusiastic reviews for their HP acting. True, they were younger at one point, but even so the reviews of acting per se have sometimes been tepid. Which raises a further question. Is it just possible that the HP film scripts just aren’t that well written, and that in fact they are very hard to speak convincingly?

Just a thought.

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Professor Potter, for what I’ve read in normal people’s reviews (I mean the ones who are not critics) what happens with this play is all the contrary. They go to the theatre thinking they are just going to see 2 HP actors and they come out being very surprised with the play, the acting, set, sound, lighting, choreographies…

I’m happy you liked this theatre fan’s review, there are many of them on theatre forums (they are quite long to post here), and a lot of people write their experience on their blogs too, wich a little reseach everyone can find many of them.

And yes, the dancers/actors who play the horses are amazing. People who don’t know anything about what the play is about joke about the horses because they have only read what tabloids write, some of them don’t even know they are played by actors. And it’s a pity because they don’t realize they are one of the most beautiful things people can ever see in theatre. They have studied horse movements, Daniel too, and all are amazing too see. I don’t know if there is a Tony for that, maybe one for the ensemble cast? But I know on theatre forums they say Dan’s performance is Tony-worthy.

So people shouldn’t be afraid to have big expectation before going to see it. In fact, some crtics question the relevance of the play nowadays but that’s one of the things people seem to like the most, how this play makes you question certain things and makes you think. Not many plays or movies manage to do that nowadays…

Avatar Image says:

Jason, I don’t know if the reason are the scripts, the directors, the production, the editing… but there is something in the HP movies that doesn’t allow the actors to show all their talent. Just look at Ralph Fiennes for example, he is a great actor, but in these movies he is not half scary he is in other films he has done before. I like the movies, I think the casting department has always done a wonderful work, but they don’t use all these actors’ potencial. At least they have not until now, OotP was quite good and there are still 3 movies to watch.

But I must also say I don’t think it’s fair to compare Equus with the others young actors’ work. I’m sure all they have done very well in the proyects they’ve done outside Potter movies, but in this case it is theatre we are talking about. Like Helen McCrory (Narcisa Malfoy) said: “The difference between screen and stage is that in theatre it’s tangible whether someone can act or not. I’ve worked with people, who will remain nameless, where a film scene has had to be cobbled together from a whole day’s worth of takes because the actor is. They can’t remember the lines; if they do remember the lines, they can’t remember the moves. In the final project, they will look great, because the director will cut the film for them. In theatre, you can’t employ someone who can’t remember their bloody lines. That’s the difference” .

Also, Alan Strang couldn’t be a more complex character, the actor has to play all kind of emotions (even sing and the final choreography is quite demanding). I’m sure most of those so called brilliant Hollywood actors (some of them even have won Oscars) wouldn’t be able to play even half of this role. But that’s the thing about cinema.

Avatar Image says:

The Boston Globe also gave Dan a glowing review while having some reservation about Griffith’s interpretation of Dysart (that was criticized more than his actual acting). Like other reviewers, the relevance of the play’s message to today’s world was questioned. But, there was no doubt about the critic’s awe at Daniel Radcliffe’s performance – the headline was “Radcliffe bares soul in Equus.” She writes: “Yes, as you’ve probably heard, in “Equus” you can see a movie star naked. But you can also see something far more interesting: the bared psyche of a genuine actor. Daniel Radcliffe, best known as the film face of Harry Potter, has generated plenty of buzz for the revival of Peter Shaffer’s 1973 play, first in London’s West End and now on Broadway, where it opened last night. What must not get lost in the cloud of hype is the real news, which is that Radcliffe, despite limited experience in live theater, turns out to be a stage actor of extraordinary presence, generosity, and power. He’s the real thing.” http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2008/09/26/radcliffe_bares_soul_in_equus/ – Pretty great reviews all around (and for the New York Daily News’ 3 out of 5 stars – ehh, that newspaper gets about 1 1/2 stars out of 5 for me).

Avatar Image says:

good for dan. personally, he’s not my idea of harry potter at all, but it looks like he can act the hell out of headier, thicker parts. so that’s pretty awesome.

Avatar Image says:

Lucas: you make good points, which I understand and appreciate. There is one thing you might consider, however, and that is that what is good acting in the theater can often be overacting on film. The distance in theater has the effect of reducing the breadth of the on-stage acting. Broad gestures and strong, heavily stressed speech come out sounding more normal 100 feet away. On film, however, you are constrained to such an extent that you often have to act with your eyes alone.

Avatar Image says:

I saw the play before it opened (and am going to see it again). Dan was quite wonderful in the part. Afterwards, I kept thinking Wow, he really can act; I never once thought of HP while watching him. The most disappointing part in the play was Kate Mulgrew; thought she was pretty awful, acting rather than being. I’m so glad the critics unanimously thought Dan was great.

Avatar Image says:

“GO Dan! We’re all waiting for that Tony Nomination.”

While I’m sure he’ll get one…he will be hard-pressed to overcome John Lithgow’s amazing performance in All My Sons. Of course, neither show will be playing when the Tony nominations are made, so they be overshadowed if equally great performances come out after.

Avatar Image says:

I can’t wait to see it in November

Dan did it again, cept now in America….First topping Movie charts, now the Theater charts x-x; he just doens’t know how to stop does he? LOL not that we want him to oh no no no

Avatar Image says:

I agree, it will be very hard to beat JOhn Lithgow. I mean, it’s friggin’ JOHN LITHGOW! lol. He’s got a history behind him after all. Dan’s role too, is more of the supporting actor, correct? It’s the psychiatrist’s role that is actually considered the leading role. Dan might get best Newcomer or supporting, to my mind.

Avatar Image says:

Jason, I agree there are differences between one acting and other, but that’s why Dan has been preparing himself and studing since he auditioned for Equus and Peter Shaffer said ‘yes’ to his casting, because it’s not easy to give that step from one thing to the other. He has learned how to proyect his voice, how to deliver lines, how to walk on stage…so many things. There was a fantastic interview where he explained some of his training and it was really interesting (I’ll try and find it again because I don’t remember where I read it). That’s why theatre actors don’t have a problem acting in front of a camera, but many movie actors suck when trying to do theatre, because it is much more complex than delivering lines in front of a camera. That’s what Helen means I think. What you say it can happen to a theatre actor when acting in a movie, I guess it can happen to those who have done theatre acting most of their lives. But actors who have always done movies and theatre don’t have those problems.

Avatar Image says:

I saw a preview last week (I sat onstage—pretty cool). Dan was very very good. He remains onstage often, even when he’s not “in” a scene. He’s focused, concentrates and remains in character. I bring that up because theatre acting is so different than film acting, and I’m relieved and happy for Dan that he’s able to pull if off so well. It’s very brave of him to take on this particular role.

I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed with Richard Griffiths performance. He take on the character was too flat for my liking. And the play is dated. So true.

That said, it was certainly theatrical in moments, and it was worth it to see Dan hit the stage and own it.

Avatar Image says:

I’m so proud of Dan right now. yes, he really owned the Equus stage, outshining even the supposed lead character. The reviews are unanimously glowing – no exception. And I’m so proud of being an HP fan now also. Dan said something very complimentary to us HP fans when he was asked what are our reactions to his being nude onstage. He said:

” The thing about the HP following – because it is based around books – they’re a really literate, smart bunch of people so there are very few Harry Potter fans who object to me doing this.” http://www.playbill.com/news/article/121799.html/pg2

Thank your for making us proud Dan! We will always support you in whatever project you do in the future.

Avatar Image says:

wow! I am so proud of Dan! I had seen the London performance and I was very impressed, he was electric in some of the most dramatic parts. I expected that he would improve after 18 months, but I was still nervous of Broadway critics’ reaction to him. It’s brilliant that Dan is not considered the young novice but actually shines out!

“Radcliffe is a shockingly good serious actor, and delivers what is perhaps the best celebrity Broadway debut in recent memory.” has to the best quote ever.

Avatar Image says:

“Dan’s role too, is more of the supporting actor, correct? It’s the psychiatrist’s role that is actually considered the leading role. “

Under Tony rules, since Dan Radcliffe is billed above the title, he can only be considered for “Lead Actor in a Play.” But as I said, there are a few other noteworthy plays that will open and could have equally as compelling performances. But I’m sure he’ll be nominated.

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