Can Harry Potter deliver live on stage? In fact, clothed or naked, Daniel Radcliffe is pretty much the whole show in a disappointing West End revival of Equus that will especially bother those (like myself) who recall the electrifying 1974 Broadway staging. As sullen Hampshire stable boy Alan Strang, who blinds six horses in a psychosexual frenzy, Radcliffe brings real intensity and theatrical presence to a part that requires him to bare all, physically and emotionally.
Both acts build to the Big Dramatic Moments favored by playwright Peter Shaffer (Amadeus). So where do the highfalutin spoken arias about ”the normal” leave costar Richard Griffiths (The History Boys)? In truth, struggling: The capacious, sweet-faced actor lacks the vocal and physical dynamism to play Alan’s tensely coiled, self-doubting shrink. (Paging Jeremy Irons!)
The supporting cast is highly skilled, particularly Gabrielle Reidy as Alan’s Bible-toting mom, and those skeletal horses’ heads — worn, as in the original, by actors — still send shivers down the spine. But Thea Sharrock’s emotionally becalmed production is certainly an indicator of the career 17-year-old Radcliffe has ahead of him, even if Equus seems tethered to an age that’s come and long gone.