Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Little Pony! My Little Pony!

Alternative Blog Post Titles:
1. Hung Like A Horse
2. A Horse is A Horse (Of course, Of Course!)
3. Horseplay
4. The Best Little Horse House in Midtown

When hearing that Daniel Radcliffe, cinema's Harry Potter, would be appearing naked in the revival of Equus, two questions may come to mind. (1) Does it mean that I'm gay if I want to see this? and (2) Does it mean that I'm gay if I ask myself, 'Does it mean that I'm gay if I want to see this? I'm far too secure to have thought of these things myself. I just... saw them scrawled in a bathroom stall at the Broadhurst Theater when I saw the show yesterday. Yeah!

The prospect of seeing Harry Potter naked in a show may provide a cheap thrill for some, but is hardly worth shelling out at least $60 for a seat at the back of theater just to see him disrobe. Equus happens to be a very intense and engrossing play and the nudity, well, it's certainly not beside the point, but it's very primal. It's not sexy. It's not the point of going to see Equus. It's not like Harry Potter is becoming Gyspy Rose Lee (although Forbidden Broadway has a funny skit that let's you see exactly what that would be like).

When I was looking at ticket options a couple months ago, a BFF informed me that there was on stage seating at the theater. I was amazed. I had seen Xanadu from on-stage seating and I could not imagine how this would be for Equus. It's one thing to have rollerskating muses zooming around you, throwing winks at you when the audience in the house can't see. But how are they gonna have people sitting on the stage when half blind horses start flailing about the playing space? Immediately I knew I had to get on-stage seating for this show. Luckily there were seats available and I was good to go.

So yesterday I get to the theater (early this time!) and I get led around through the side walkway to the back of the theater. There is a friendly usher there who asks that I show him my turned off phone and leads me to this staircase. Where the heck is my seat? Well it happens to be elevated off of the stage, which I have to say was a relief. I don't need to be that close to the madness. the onstage seating is basically a horseshoe (the set designer has a sense of humor!) that forms a kind of observation deck around the dark grey circular set. They have a nicely padded ledge in front of the on stage seats so you can lean over the side and get a good view of the stage below. The set up reminded me of something I couldn't immediately put my finger on, but then it hit me: We were in the effing Wizengamut!

Oh how many Potter allusions can you cram into one psychodrama? Anyway, how was the show? It was very solid. Richards and Radcliffe were on point. Kate Mulgrew, my beloved Captain Janeway, had tons of energy and played well off of Richards. My problem with the show, honestly, was that it didn't really grab me. I worked on a production of Equus in college and this Broadway production didn't really give me anything new to think about. Having just seen Hair and then August: Osage County, both of which really grabbed me, i was a little disappointed with the vision of this show. I think it was the horses. They were more stylized and less naturalistic in their movements than I would've likes. They always seemed like they were Equus the Horse God and never Nugget and the other horses just in the stables. So they didn't really work for me, and I think that took me out of the world of the play.

I'm glad I got to see it though. I did think it was a strong production with good performances. It just wasn't revelatory. I like my revivals to bring something new to the table, and this had no real surprises. I like Equus a lot and this is probably worth seeing if you've never seen it, but what I saw from my unique perch did not really stick with me once I left the theater.

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