An excellent production of Peter Shaffer's Tony Award winning drama, "Equus," is on stage at the Towsontowne Arena Theatre through Oct. 16.
The company, under the fine direction of Robert Clingan, is performing in the arena space below the stage at the Towsontowne Dinner Theatre Mondays through Wednesdays when the dinner theater is dark. (The dinner theater presents musicals. Currently "Show Boat" is on stage Thursdays through Sundays).
"Equus" is the story of a confused 17-year-old boy, Alan Strang, dwelling in a Freudian fantasy world where he is compelled to create his own god, an equestrian deity he calls Equus. His love of the equine is highly sensual and in these silken creatures he finds the glorious spirit that he thinks represents his "true" life force. But then, for no apparent reason, he blinded six riding horses.
Martin Dysart, a children's psychiatrist (he is the narrator throughout the show, which is told in a series of flashbacks) tackles the big question of why and finds himself hurled out of his own dull, complacent life into the boy's psyche crammed with intensely passionate emotions.
An interesting point in Shaffer's poetic, probing, philosophical, dark drama, is the young man's obsessive need to worship instilled in him as a child by a disturbed, fanatically religious mother.
A well-intended narrow-minded father (with hang-ups of his own) contribute to the boy's mental condition. Alan leads a solitary life with no friends and not even a television set to give him a peak at a more realistic world.
Dysart considers himself a kind of ancient high priest who has "murdered" the spirit of those children he has treated to allow them to exist in modern society. His dilemma is if he destroys the demon within Alan then he kills the wonderful passion that he, himself, has always longed to experience.
Rick Hammontree gives a riveting performance as the distressed psychiatrist but the actor needs to slow down his first act narration and thoughtfully explore all the ramifications. He also needs to highlight the droll, ironic humor of his role.
Anne B. Mulligan is outstanding as Alan's uptight, neurotic mother and Bruce Godfrey is most believable as the troubled working-class father.
Craig James-Orefice creates a sensitive and visionary Alan caught in a tortuous web of self-betrayal.
Rosanna Caro is fair as the girl who attempts to seduce Alan. Caro also plays the small part of the nurse, which is distracting since this stint seems to sap her energy for the more important role.
Barbara Blair is competent in the role of the psychiatrist's associate. Robert Petr shines in a cameo as a young horseman. Bill Grauer is the stable owner and James Hunnicutt, Robert Petr and Holly Walker make up the equestrian chorus.
There is brief nudity handled tastefully in this well-paced and well-executed production.
The theater-in-the round performances are presented cabaret style. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with curtain time at 8:30 p.m.
Theatre Buff from St. Petersburg is once again at the Theatre Project with yet another superb comedic piece. This time Russian comic Gennady Vetrov is performing his one-man show, "Masquerade," in which he plays a myriad of very funny #i characters feebly trying to cope with life.
Vetrov is brilliant as he executes one hilarious escapade after another. His character development and timing is impeccable. He is also an accomplished musician.
The show which is being performed in English with Russian folk songs continues at the Theatre Project through Sunday.