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HomeNewsArchivesWillie Wilson Offers High Praise for 'Equus' Pistarckle Theater's Latest Fare

Willie Wilson Offers High Praise for 'Equus' Pistarckle Theater's Latest Fare

Oct. 31, 2006 — First off, Bravo for Pistarckle Theater! Their current production of the play "Equus," by Peter Shaffer, is the most challenging and artistically successful drama in recent memory. The story an edgy psychological drama centers on a 17-year-old mans struggle to make sense of his dysfunctional universe, one governed by a religiously obsessed mother and a sexually repressed father. Add to that mix the boys passion for Christ overlaid by the love of a horse which morphs into lust for a beautiful girl – and you have a rather toxic stew, one steeped in symbolism, mystery and pathos.
Not your standard dinner theater fare? Most definitely not. But true theater goers will not want to miss it. The setting is a psychiatric hospital, and the narrative voice is that of Dr. Dysart (deftly interpreted by Jim Jester) who is dealing with the traumas of the boy, Alan Strang, who has committed the terrible crime of blinding six horses. Inevitably, and ironically, the doctors investigation turns inward and reveals the doctors own gnawing psychological issues. The boy is sensitively portrayed by Zack Hoffman, an Antilles School Junior, and his mother, Dora Strang, is artfully rendered by Pistarcles own Niccola Emerich. Actor Daniel Beck gives a wonderfully quirky and idiosyncratic performance as the boys father. The love interest is a girl who works in the stable (played beautifully by Tonia Garnet), whose sensual, endearing and, ultimately, misguided affection unhinges the boy and triggers his madness. Time does not allow further praise except to say that all the performances were excellent. And the horses! three of them clop-clopping around the stage in a most realistic and, at the same time, abstract manner. The horses, like the acting, the movement, the lights, the sound, the staging, and the direction (by Frank Bartolucci) are all top drawer. I will not venture to conjecture about the plays meaning except to say it explores the rewards and the risks of passion.
For a play like "Equus" to succeed this well on St. Thomas requires talent, motivation, risk taking, and to a degree luck, and it is cause for celebration. We dont need a steady diet of plays like this, but an occasional infusion of challenging drama is, I think, good for the soul. And maybe even good for our island. One thing for certain: once you have seen "Equus" it will not slip away on the ride home as is often the case with lighter fare. It will stay with you and maybe cause you to stop and think which is what all good drama seeks to do.
Final performances of "Equus" will be at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Pistarckle Theater in Tillet Gardens on St. Thomas. Call 775-7877 for tickets or find them at Marina Market, Draughting Shaft, or Beans Bytes & Websites.

Editor's note: Willie Wilson, along with being a writing and theater teacher, is also the author of two books. The most recent, "Glassbottom Days," is about his experience growing up on St. Thomas.

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