EQUUS presented by Warsaw Federal Incline Theater through April 23. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Saturday night performance.
The motivations behind a horrific crime power the dark drama EQUUS which closes out the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater’s season. Director Greg Procaccino’s steady hand leads his strong ensemble of nine deftly through the engaging script.
Michael Douglass Hall plays Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist tasked with getting through to the young man who committed the crime. Hall brings a great gravity to the role. Dysart’s weariness with his job specifically and his life in general is evident, but the compassion and desire to heal which lie underneath keep his character forging ahead.
Newcomer Kelsie Rae Slaugh is Hester, a magistrate and friend of Dysart who implores him to help in Alan’s defense. She fears Alan’s lack of cooperation will result in the young man’s conviction. Hester and Dysart’s relationship is believable as both professional and affable.
If I had to use one word to describe Christopher Carter’s performance as Alan, I would have to choose “focused.” Even at his most defiant, you could see Alan’s inner emotional turmoil. Whether it was his tit for tat relationship with Dysart or his budding romantic relationship with Jill, every moment rang emotionally true. Great work.
I also found Hannah Gregory to be completely honest and believable as Jill. Her chance encounter with Alan leads to the two working together at the stable where the crime ultimately takes place. Their connection and her firm-yet-gentle pursuit of Alan is very well done. Their nudity toward the end of the show is handled tastefully and bravely by the two fully-committed actors.
Rory Sheridan and Martha Slater are strong as Alan’s theologically-opposed parents Frank & Dora. In their performances, it is easy to see how the parents’ beliefs and hypocrisy heavily influenced their son’s formative years.
Also well-handled was the role of the horse, Nugget, portrayed by Peter Cutler. His height and build, in combination with the costume and headpiece struck the right chord. But it was the actors’ commitment during their interactions that really sold the conceit.
Rounding out the strong ensemble are Angela Alexander Nalley as the nurse who works with Dysart and Jim Stump as Dalton, the owner of the stable that employed Alan.
I felt that the various accents were handled well by the actors. For the most part, the pacing was strong but wisely also allowed some key emotionally moments to play out at their own rate.
I enjoyed the set designed by Brett Bowling. The overall shape of the set reminded me of a temple and the repeating cross motif worked well as a visual element. The lighting added clarity to the story-telling as the show jumped between the present and memories of the past. At the performance I attended, there were a few lighting cues that seemed out of place.
Overall an engrossing, well-produced drama.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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