You could have someone’s eye out with that

Occasionally we like to inject a little high culture into our lives: move out of our comfort zones and do grown-up things. Like the theatre, for instance: a hard-hitting play, dark and modern, tackling a controversial subject.

And with nudity.

It was Louise’s idea to see Equus when the touring version hit the Cambridge Arts Theatre. She, Chris, Chef and I went along to Saturday night’s performance, Chris with customary Oasis bottle full of red wine. Chef chose to stay overnight at the University Arms, celebrating his new job and huge pay rise by splurging on a posh room.

We ate before the show at the Fountain, which does a decent range of pies’n’mash these days. Naturally Chris was already giggly on cider before he’d even touched his fake Oasis (mirage?).

The rain was starting to fall as we migrated from pub to theatre and took our seats. An older audience than I was expecting; no Harry Potter, I suppose. But we did have a great cast, led by Simon Callow as the psychiatrist Martin Dysart. The role of Alan Strang, Daniel Radcliffe’s in the West End, was taken by Alfie Allen – son of Keith, brother of Lily. I didn’t recognise any of the other actors.

Equus is about Alan Strang’s, uh, passion for horses and the circumstances that led him to blind six of them. The psychiatrist gradually draws out the story, which we see in flashback (no hand-waving diddly-doo-diddly-doos from the cast, it’s all in the dialogue). There are no Rentaghost panto horses, just men (and a woman) in brown skin-tight clothing with silver horse-heads and huge silver horseshod feet adding several inches to their height. It works astonishingly well.

The play is famous, neigh (do you see?) infamous for its nudity. It contains both flavours: Alan Strang plus Jill, a girl from the stables where he worked. In truth it does seem a little gratuitous, an early 70s anti-establishment right-on get-em-off hippy thing, but it was nonetheless not unwelcome. It certainly stopped the seemingly interminable coughing and spluttering from audience members who should have been at home with the Lemsip rather than drowning out the dialogue with their noisy phlegm.

Alfie Allen does well as Alan Strang. I was going to say that I’d like to see more of him, but there’s little else left to see, frankly. Simon Callow naturally steals the show, playing Simon Callow as usual (funny how the best thesps are like that). The actors playing Alan’s parents Frank and Dora were also excellent.

Enjoyed it tremendously.

Avaragado’s rating: four Milky bars

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