Review: EQUUS at Fulton Theatre

A dark play-figuratively and literally.

By: Feb. 18, 2024
Review: EQUUS at Fulton Theatre
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Peter Shaffer’s dark and brooding Equus premiered at the Fulton on February 16.  Director, Marc Robin does an effective job of exploring the mysteries of religion, sexuality, mental illness, and identity with his cast of nine.  The sparse performance space consists only of a few chairs, some stackable crates, and two octagonal platforms.  Performed in the round, with actors walking, marching, and even galloping right in front of you, Equus becomes a very intimate experience.

Kevin Earley stars as Martin Dysart, a weary child psychologist who is excellent at his job, yet desensitized to the world around him. Earley conveys sincerity and strength in his role.  He is best in the one on one scenes with his latest patient, Alan Strang (Andres Montejo).  The two have a symbiotic relationship, feeding off each other, pushing boundaries and buttons.

Montejo is fantastic as the intense Strang who is brought to the doctor after blinding six horses while on duty as a stable boy.  He erupts in fierce anger one moment, then becomes cooly aloof the next.  Montejo has a great physicality which is on display throughout the entire performance.

 My one criticism with the role stems with the script not necessarily the actor. Strang turns out to be neither a pathetic victim, nor a remorseless psychopath.  His actions have reasons, however bizarre they may be to the audience.  Therefore, I was not especially sympathetic towards or disgusted by him. Instead, I felt like a neutral observer throughout.  Real life is rarely black and white, and the plot of this play reinforces that.

Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton is exceptional as the horse, Nugget. Mannerisms, gait, reactions, and even his breathing were highly convincing and appropriate.  Toniazzo-Naughton is a gifted mime. He mastered a role that could be potentially distracting or even silly and, instead, made it tremendously emotional and realistic. 

Amy Decker and Andrew Kindig are effective as the imperfect yet well-meaning Mrs. and Mr. Strang.  Abigail Isom is solid as fellow stable worker, Jill Mason.

As is stated in the play’s advertising, this play contains adult themes and nudity.  It is all handled tastefully and strategically.  While the Fulton’s policy refuses admission to minors, the plot and length of the script are probably natural deterrents.  It is a dark play, both literally and figuratively, and probably would benefit from a few extra bits of comic relief.  Thinking back to some of Fulton’s more heavy offerings over the last few years like Doubt and Sweat, such shows had frequently humorous lines and bit of business to break up the intensity. 

The Fulton’s Equus is a master class of acting. Anger, hatred, fear, love shame, and more are all conveyed inches away from the audience.  Playing on the fourth floor, now through March 3rd.