Bobby Lamont shines darkly in Village Scene’s Equus
In this modern classic, recently remounted in London with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, director Paul van Dyck brings a disturbing and vital story to life. Musician and actor Bobby Lamont embodies the lead role of Alan Strang with fearlessness and palpable anguish, riding sinewy human horses through dreamscapes peopled by shirtless horse-boys.
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Knowing in advance that the play was described as a “psychodrama” and that it dealt with nudity, sexuality, and violence, there was no way I was going to see this play alone. I brought my theatre student buddy, also known on stage as Connie Lingua, as moral support. But in the end, I hardly needed it: Paul van Dyck’s direction of Equus for Village Scene Productions is riveting and fast-paced, with a command of text rarely seen on this scale of production.
The subject of the play is a tragic mash-up of religion, adolescent psychosis, and animal cruelty. Alan Strang wants to be normal, but he is put under the psychological treatment of Dr. Martin Dysart, played by the confident and seasoned Noel Burton. Their interaction allows us as the audience to understand why he blinded 6 horses one terrible night, with the “present-day” scenes happening on the floor with audience, and the raised stage reserved for dreamscapes and flashbacks.
“It’s a beautiful story, about somebody who feels so lost and so disturbed, and some of us may begin to envy him, as the psychiatrist character does. He’s a regular 17 y/o boy living a regular life and in his head he creates a mythology involving these horses,” explains van Dyck. The play brings up an array of themes, from the nature of “normal” to the ground of religious belief, to society’s ability to accommodate extremes.
“It is as resonating, if not even more so today than it was then,” says Village Scene artistic director Davyn Ryall. “Our themes of the production are Mystery and Sexy. We know who the victims are, who did it and how, but we don’t know why. What rationale could ever justify such heinous acts? The play explores how people justify the horrific acts that people carry out on others.”
There are many notable moments in the play, not the least of which are the many with scene-stealing horse-man Nugget, played by the strapping young André Simoneau. Simoneau embodies the beloved horse that Lamont strokes and rides bareback, their caresses forming an erotic touchstone in the play. The sexy chorus of 6 horses in silver masks with manes, deftly choreographed by performer Jacqueline van de Geer, forms a physical and visual backdrop that acts at once as chorus, set, and sound effect machine. The scene at the end of the first act with Lamont and Simoneau is worth the price of admission, with the rippling Simoneau, shirtless in tights, piggybacking Lamont as he delivers an almost zoophilic monologue of cosmic proportions.
Equus is on until April 24 at the Rialto.
Performances: Friday April 15, 8pm -Benefit for Radio Centre-Vile CINQ 102.3FM;
Saturday April 16, 8pm *benefit for Refuge RR;
Sunday April 17, 2pm; Tuesday April 19, 7:30pm; Wednesday April 20, 7:30pm; Thursday, April 21, 7:30pm; Friday April 22, 8pm; Saturday April 23, 8pm; Sunday April 24, 2pm & 8pm.
Tickets: Regular 30$ Seniors & students $24 (Taxes included.) *50$ (A 25$ tax receipt on request.)
Advance ticket purchase at: www.lavitrine.com, 145 Ste-Catherine W.
Priape, 1311 Ste-Catherine E. (Service charges apply) &
ÉM café – Mile End, 5718 Ave. du Parc.
- Rialto Theatre, 5723 ave. du Parc (SW corner Bernard) Montreal.