One of my bigger regrets in my theatrical life was not seeing “Equus” on Broadway. Luckily for myself and all other Buffalo theatergoers, there is a Broadway caliber production being performed at Irish Classical Theater. Now those who regularly read my reviews (thanks if you do) know that I am not one to mince words. This production is, to be brief, superb. Occasionally it is difficult as reviewer to find a way to constructively criticize a work of theater that people have poured their hearts into. Luckily, this review will not be a struggle, as there is truly nothing to criticize in this streamlined production.
This production is, to be brief, superb. . .If you have any interest in theater at all, you NEED to see this production.
“Equus” deals with a psychiatrist charged with uncovering the motivation of a young, psychologically disturbed young adult who is convicted of mutilating six horses in one evening. It is a challenging piece of theater for audiences, and contains mature subject matter and adult language. It might as well be the paragon for modern British “dramedy.”
Credit is first and foremost due to ICTC, for endeavoring to produce such a challenging and demanding piece of theater, and doing it with appropriate respect for the text and its author. The ensemble is immediately placed in the thick of the story, with actors entering along with audience members and seating themselves around the action on the stage. The audience almost immediately feels a sense of a tribal atmosphere, and this observational approach makes the piece even stronger. David Oliver and his team are to be commended. Trevor Copp, who is tasked with coordinating the mimed action in the piece, supplements the world of the play with his brilliance, executed flawlessly by the entire company.
As always, Vincent O’Neill is a treat to watch. His narrative voice aids the audience understanding of the piece. His turn as psychiatrist Martin Dysart is almost certain to be Artie nominated, and rightfully so. He approaches the role with intellect, honesty, and a certain reverence for the dialogue. It is an approach that is beyond effective.
Supporting O’Neill is PJ Tighe, who brings to the stage the perfect, and I mean perfect, blend of off-color humor, charisma, and transcendence. Tighe is playing a highly complicated individual, but he isn’t overacting, or forcing it down his audience members’ throats.
As Tighe’s parents, Greg Gjurich and Margaret Messman are equally impressive, if only for their layered performances.
Kelsey Mogensen, as Tighe’s love interest, is irresistible in every sense of the word. The best thing about this production is that the ensemble is as impressive, if not moreso.
The danger with staging “Equus” is getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of the piece. ICTC takes it all in stride and then some. The entire production team is unified in their drive to create a cohesive production, and it shows. The actors have committed their whole selves to the work they are doing, and in some cases are literally baring themselves.
As far as dramatic literature goes, “Equus” is the tops. It would not surprise anyone, then, that Irish Classical Theater is the theater to produce it. If you have any interest in theater at all, you NEED to see this production.
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
Advisory: For Mature Audiences Only.
Review by Nathan Andrew Miller