In general, I am not a fan of theater. Well, I never really have been. Something about being in the same room as the players has always made me uncomfortable, not to mention the claustrophobia and anxiety I experience even in the cinema.
Mary took me to see Equus as my Christmas present, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given me. One, we were talking about our desire to see it. Granted, part of that desire was an admitted want to see Daniel Radcliffe full on naked. Two, she actually listened to an interest of mine and when she drew my name from the hat for Secret Santa, she went with it. Three, I love horses. Four, I love arts.
I decided to tell Mary about my anxiety and that despite my sincere desire to see the play there might come a moment where I would have to exit the theater. She was awesomely understanding and sharing that helped me so that I not only did not have to leave the theater, but there were only two brief moments of anxiety.
The play was amazing. I knew a little about the story, having falsely been told when it first opened in London that the story was about a boy who physically loved horses and had sex with them, which turned me off from it. Then I learned that was not the case, and I am so glad Mary pulled my name and took me. I would not have seen it otherwise.
I related to Strang. I too love horses, and I felt that like his therapist I could understand the shame and the emotional attachment he felt, the need to not be seen as lesser before such gods.
I had not felt so exhilarated by music, film, or any other form of art in such a long time. It was as if my motivation, my desire, my need for things beyond myself and full of imagination and creation was given back to me. The second the play started, I knew I was going to enjoy its short run. The music, the set, the performances were all inspirational. The praise placed upon Daniel Radcliffe has not come without warrant. To think that he has been channeling the same passionate and mistakenly insane character for months, without giving a tired performance, is incredible.
Above all, it was the horses who grabbed my attention. I was in awe of the well-formed men who strode gracefully around the stage. They truly resembled horses, standing high upon hooves and with large muscular chests that truly resembled a horse’s strong form. I realized my mouth hung open for most of the play.
I was reminded that so much can be said and shown with so little. CG is not required, nor intensely large and elaborate sets. It is the performances that create the world that has been opened to the audience. I have a new-found appreciation for simplicity in acting and shows. I will not limit myself to the cinema. Besides, there is nothing better to me than a story touching disturbing subjects.
And that is part of the theme, to grasp unto what inspires us, to live life without regret and without limits, to truly know our desires and to fulfill them. Strang may have been disturbed and preformed an incredibly cruel act, but he held tightly onto life and knew his own needs and wants.
I was also drawn to the idea of worship. What difference is there between his idolization of Equus and that of Christ who once occupied his wall? People die endlessly for the supposed will of the lord. Why not embrace the lord or our lords as Strang did, and attempt to understand them? Why not try to achieve our own godly status? And at the same time, when blind worship takes place, people are left with no reason and commit acts of violence against themselves and/or others.
The end of the first act was filled with intense emotion as Strang declared that he rode the horses every three weeks in the middle of night. Nugget stood in the center of the stage, atop a platform, as stirrups lowered from the ceiling. Nugget bent his back leg so that Strang could jump up, his feet secure in the stirrups as the other horses pushed the platform around. Nugget lifted his legs, trotting, then cantering, then galloping. Both legs at times were in the air as Strang shouted his story, shared his deepest secret. That was it, that was the moment I understood him. He felt love for something greater than himself. So what that it was not written by the hand of a god any of us had been taught.
And when the scene came that he told how he came to jab out the eyes of all the horses, I was once again in awe of the horses violent neighs and gracefully pained dances about the stage. Strang leapt into the air before each stall and stabbed them in their eyes. The movement was almost identical at each door, again violent yet graceful. And I felt slight guilt at seeing beauty in his actions. Who am I to think of such an act as beautiful when I am so far removed from any true threat of violence?
I left with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. This, I thought, was what I needed to help me relocate my desire for creation. I sat at attention while also dreaming of words I would wrote and worlds I would create.
I think that sometimes it is – and I do not know why – so difficult to understand ourselves and other humans that we feel they will never understand us, all we are left with is the hope that maybe those creatures who occupy this world with us will grasp even the slightest knowledge of ourselves. Then again, maybe that’s just me and Strang.