PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Equus The Stable and the Unstable

By Harry Haun
26 Sep 2008

Glenn Close, Dominic Cooper, Marian Seldes and Frances Sternhagen, Haley Joel Osment, Lili Taylor, Kathleen Turner and James Nederlander, Jr., Christy Carlson Romano, James Lipton, Annie Dorsen with Michael Berresse and Walter Bobbie, Judith Light, Claudia Shear and Leigh Silverman with Eisa Davis.
photos by Aubrey Reuben
And if one asks him at point-blank range why he'd play a character who indulges in a catalog of Potteresque no-nos nudity, smoking, watching porn, using the F-word, attempting to do the F-word and driving a spike into the eyes of six horses when he sexually short-circuits Radcliffe replies, simply, in italics: "Because it's a great play."

And furthermore: "The thing about the Harry Potter following because it is based around books they're a really literate, smart bunch of people so there are very few Harry Potter fans out there who object to me doing this. Most of them are getting really into this, and, if I'm bringing new people to theatre, then that is a good thing."

Last seen in a hoop shirt and billowing ruffles for The Country Girl, Anna Camp is reduced to the basics to share the au naturel love scene with Radcliffe. Basically, it's a Teflon nude scene, with strategic lighting and ravishing shadows nothing sticks to the roof of the mind. But if you're doing it, she said, it takes a lot of getting-use-to.

"We took our time with it in rehearsal and made sure there was only a few people in the room when we first did it. We went slowly and talked we did a lot of talking before we got to the acting. Thea really helped out a lot, and Dan made me feel comfortable. It's exciting now. I'm not as nervous to do it as I was and I was the first few times. Incredibly. I'm not the type of person who's like that. I had to overcome things with this part. You ignore the fact there's an audience there and focus on the other person. I focused on Dan and telling the story and being in the moment."

The other major female character in the play the magistrate who asks Dysart to apply his healing arts to the deeply disturbed youngster is crisply dispatched by Kate Mulgrew with slight telltale traces of her Hepburnese: "All my scenes are with Dr. Dysart, played beautifully by Richard Griffiths, so I couldn't be better or happier," she said. "I thoroughly enjoyed this. It has been an honor, a privilege and a delight."

T. Ryder Smith and Carolyn McCormick as the boy's dysfunctional parents deepen the play's mystery in sidelight appearances. And Pisoni, whose finely tuned physicality is his signature trade, is doubly cast as a horseman and a horse, Nugget, who is the favorite of the boy. He heads a herd of six dancer-horses who move about the stage with uncanny equestrian grace. The movement, Pisoni said, was the work of Fin Walker. "She's a choreographer from South England and she's incredible."

Not only did director Sharrock not see John Dexter's vigorously theatrical original production, she hadn't seen the light of day. "I was merely a twinkle in my father's eye." But she did collaborate with the play's original set and costume designer John Napier hence, the return of the wire horse heads.

The amphitheatre look of the set seems like a dark version of the Copenhagen set. "Actually," she said, "it is less influenced by Copenhagen and more of a continuation of the inspiration John had from the original production. Originally he had the audience sitting on stage, and for this one he wanted them to be up high as if were like an operating theatre."

Three women from the original Broadway cast of Equus Roberta Maxwell, Marian Seldes and Frances Sternhagen led the opening night's guest list.

Also in attendance: Oscar Isaac, American Buffalo-bound Haley Joel Osment, Glenn Close (who resumes filming her Emmy-winning role on "Damages" Tuesday), Kathleen Turner, Michael Berresse, White Christmas director Walter Bobbie, Blair Brown, Lili Taylor, Christy Carlson Romano (making the Beauty and the Beast-to-Avenue Q transition on Monday), Judith Light of small screen ("Ugly Betty") and big screen ("Save Me"), Claudia Shear, Hairspray/ Annie scripter Thomas Meehan (dusting off Death Takes a Holiday for a November workshop and a Roundabout slot the following fall), James Lipton, director Leigh Silverman, Byron Jennings and one of The History Boys, Dominic Cooper (who's set to be the love interest for Helen Mirren's Phaedra next summer in London).