The trinidad Guardian / The Players Workshop’s production of Sir Peter Shaffer’s acclaimed Equus is riveting as it is intense. Staged in collaboration with The Actors Lab-Trinidad and having Gregory Mc Guire as its executive producer, the play premiered last week Wednesday and ran for five nights at The Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook.
Directed and designed by Mervyn de Goeas, this second local staging of Equus was originally staged at the Royal National Theatre in London in 1973. It subsequently opened on Broadway in October 1974.
Shaffer who died last year, won the Tony Award for Equus and Amadeus. As a play and subsequently as a movie, Equus featured some of the world’s most renowned actors including Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Perkins, Alec Mc Cowen, Leonard Nimoy, Richard Burton, Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths.
In the lead role as psychiatrist Martin Dysart, Michael Cherrie was outstanding. His diction and articulation perfect, he played the role quite convincingly. Cherrie meandered through the play’s demanding script with the ease of poise of his more illustrious foreign counterparts previously cast in this role.
The small interior of The Little Carib Theatre kept Cherrie up close and personal in the faces of his audience. So compelling was he that one would have heard a pin drop in the theatre throughout the play’s almost three-hour duration.
Also nailing the role of mentally disturbed Alan Strang was young Makesi Algenon. So succinct was this young thespian in his role that off stage it wouldn’t be surprising if people approached him tentatively anticipating some manic reaction from him in real life.
Wayne Lee-Sing and Cecilia Salazar were also standouts as Frank and Dora Strang, Alan’s parents. Equally strong were Kemion Nero as attorney Hester Saloman, Iyepha Biggot as Jill Mason, Keino Swamber as stable manager Dalton, Andrew Hall as Horseman and Avielle Mc Carthy as the nurse.
Accompanied by five muscle-bound actors as horses, special mention is also deserving of Kameel Ali as the steed Nugget. Without letting too much out the bag, Alan Strang blinds the six horses resulting in him being committed to the Rokeby Psychiatric Hospital to be treated by Dysart.
Mervyn de Goeas’ Equus is like an oasis in the local theatre landscape, one which seems barren of “serious” theatre. In stark contrast to the deluge of farce-type plays that flood local theatre, Equus comes like a gasp of fresh air amidst a flotsam of regurgitated plots.
The Players Workshop, blessed to have two exceptional directors through the years in Belinda Barnes and de Goeas continues to attract accomplished actors and produce serious theatre deserving awards.
Cherrie is a no-brainer as an early nominee for a Best Actor Cacique Award.