Amazing theatrical ride with Equus

Stella Chatterton as Nugget in Equus with the painting which inspired part of the costumes, Tower of Blue Horses by Franz Marc, and one of the horse masks

Stella Chatterton as Nugget in Equus with the painting which inspired part of the costumes, Tower of Blue Horses by Franz Marc, and one of the horse masks

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A POWERFUL and acclaimed play by Peter Shaffer is the latest production by Harrogate’s Woodlands Drama Group at Harrogate Theatre’s studio.

Starting next Thursday, Equus is an exciting stage spectacle as well as a gripping drama which caused some controversy when it first became a massive success in the 1970s.

Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving the blinding of six horses in a small town near London.

The play tells the story of disturbed teenager Alan Strang who has blinded six horses with a hoof pick, and Martin Dysart the psychiatrist who has been appointed to help him.

As the action unfolds like a detective drama, the psychiatrist gains Alan’s trust to learn of the experiences that drove Alan to this horrific deed.

The show has proved a particular test for the thespian group in terms of set design and costumes.

The HSAP’S Howard Atkin said: “Making scenery for plays in the intimate Harrogate Theatre’s Studio is always a challenge, since there is very limited space for scene changes.

“Woodlands Drama Group have met this challenge in their forthcoming production of Equus, where a simple series of boxes can be rearranged by the cast to create different scenes.

“Health and Safety being what it is, the boxes must be safe to stand on, safe to stack on one another without wobbling and light enough for the cast to move!”

An additional challenge for the WDG production team was to produce six horse heads which were light in weight, not claustrophobic and provide the actor with full mobility and vision.

Howard set: “Inspired by the painting Tower of Blue Horses by Franz Marc, it was decided to settle for stylised horse heads with no infill, just outlines of the horses’ shapes.

“We used lightweight plastic plumbing pipe which could be formed and bent easily, and is very nearly indestructible.”

l Equus runs in the Studio at Harrogate Theatre from Thursday, October 6 to Saturday, October 8 at 7.30pm evenings and 2.30pm for the Saturday matinee.

Tickets are available from Harrogate Theatre on 01423 502116, or at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk