Author: Peter Shaffer
Published: 2 October 1984
Length: 112 pages
Warnings: semi-graphic sex and masturbation, violence, person is pretty much sexually attracted to horses. NOT FOR LITTLE PEOPLE.
Other info: This has been staged many times, and has had a film version made.
Summary : lan Strang is a disturbed youth whose dangerous obsession with horses leads him to commit an unspeakable act of violence. As psychiatrist Martin Dysart struggles to understand the motivation for Alan's brutality, he is increasingly drawn into Alan's web and eventually forced to question his own sanity. Equus is a timeless classic and a cornerstone of contemporary drama that delves into the darkest recesses of human existence.
Review: Alan Strang is a seventeen year old who has blinded six horses with a metal spike. After the magistrate pulled a few strings, he ends up in a psychiatric hospital, being treated by Doctor Martin Drysart. As well as learning the details about the events leading up to the incident, Drysart will also learn more and more about himself.
This book, is very very f***ed up. It’s a good book, but very messed up. It most certainly is not for: kids, those offended by those who don’t worship a conventional god, the squeamish, horselovers and a whole host of other people.
From a psychology point of view, it is one of the best things you can read. You really get into the heads of both the patient, as Alan and various other people recount past event, and the psychiatrist, as he questions himself in asides and thoughts spoken aloud.
Alan’s upbringing has caused him to get sex, religion and horses a little bit mixed up. Seeing his thoughts develop through the years, seeing what happened to get him where he is now, is really interesting. Drysart, too, with his moments of questioning how he got where he is, with his dreams of being an Aztec priest and his marriage to a disinterested woman and losing his own interest in life, and realising that he becomes much more lively when talking to Alan.
The relationships of the play are really deep. Alan is really an example of what different types of people do to shape you, from parents with conflicting views on religion, to the girl who shows him that things he’d held as important spiritually are actually normal.
The religion aspect of this is really interesting. you can see how Alan was drawn to create Equus as his deity, and how strong his belief is and what it drives him to do.
I’d love to see this played live. The stage directions and the intimacy of what we get told is so intense. The humming noise of the god Equus is well used in the script to indicate the importance of the following scenes. The climax of act 1, -that- scene that you all know about, gets you really into Alan’s head, but you also see the scene as a spectator in wonder at what Alan is doing an how he could be doing it. From the descriptions of how Shaffer wants the horses, you can tell that this was meant to be a work of art.
Finally, a certain staging and casting of a couple of years back solidifies its awesomeness. Because why wouldn’t you want Harry Potter stripping? (Even though that seriously is not the only reason to read/see this. It might influence your decision. but there is a lot lot more to this play than that).
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book that is both f***ed up and fascinating.
Final bonus- lots of love from Better Book Titles