The X-Collective presents a limited season of Equus, Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play that examines the conflict between personal values and satisfaction and societal mores, expectations, and institutions.

Equus premiered in 1973 at the Royal National Theatre before moving to Broadway in 1974 where it won two Tony awards, including Best Play and Best Direction. The 2007 West End revival notoriously starred a post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe.

Set in the Rokeby Psychiatric Hospital in Southern England, Equus centres around child psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Greg Scurr) who attempts to treat Alan Strang (Adam Dobson), a troubled teenager with a disturbing fascination with horses. Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he was told of a crime involving a 17-year-old boy who blinded 26 horses with a spike in a small town in northern England. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident without knowing any of the details of the crime.

The X-Collective’s production of Equus is being staged in the Holy Trinity Church Hall in Fortitude Valley which was built 133 years ago, and is one of Brisbane’s most cherished Gothic-style buildings. The dimly lit, historic setting adds to the eerie atmosphere and highlights the religious themes that underpin the story.

As well as excellent performances by Greg Scurr and Adam Dobson in the lead roles, the supporting cast includes solid performances by Steven Jubber and Julia Johnson as Alan’s parents Frank and Dora, Jules Berry as Magistrate Hesther Salomon, Roxanne Gardiner as love interest Jill Mason, Caroline Sparrow as The Nurse and Henry Solomon as stablemaster Harry Dalton and The Horseman, with a rotating ensemble of actors that play the horses.

The X-Collective is remaining faithful to the full-length, original version of Equus, with all cast members remaining seated on stage, watching the play when not performing. The total run time is just over two and a half hours including intermission. As the performance contains nudity, cameras and phones are prohibited in the theatre, so it might be worth leaving them at home or in the car if checking them in at the door is an issue.

Equus is a thought-provoking theatrical examination of cause and effect and poses many questions. Is Alan’s behaviour the result of his mother’s intense religious faith and his father’s emotional distance? Is he the victim of sexual repression or has he confused his adoration of his horse ‘God’ with physical attraction? There are only four chances to catch Equus, with the season running from 7th – 15th June.



Photo credit: Naz Mulla Photography