Time Out Melbourne

This event has finished

Double your pleasure, double your fun, with doublemint doublemint doublemint gum...

Chris Baldock’s production of Equus has proven the trusty steed on which Mockingbird Theatre has crossed the finish line on a mind-bogglingly-good first year.

Peter Shaffer’s Tony Award-winning 1973 play is the macabre story of a part-time stable boy who suffers a breakdown and blinds six horses. The script plays out as a psychiatric detective story, using drama to explore, evaluate and reveal. Shaffer re-examines the traditional definitions of madness by looking at the claims of a God-fearing mother (Amanda McKay), a television-fearing father (Soren Jensen), an unhappily married psychiatrist (Jeremy Kewley) and the disturbed young felon (Scott Middleton).

Kewley does the everyman banality of Dr Dysart perfectly, portraying the child psychiatrist in the early scenes as someone who has tamped down his conversation to one flat level of professional disinterest, gently peppered with some witty self-deprecation. He shows more and more emotional involvement as he moves towards an existential crisis: the realisation that his patient, Alan Strang, despite being desperately unwell, has felt ecstasy beyond anything Dysart, with his love of Greek drama, has ever experienced. The crux of the drama is this: if he cures Alan, making him into a functional young boy, the cure may well mean snuffing out that passion.

As Alan, Scott Middleton manages the demanding juggle of an infantile yet grown-up character with craft and competence. He makes Alan’s madness believable, his isolation tangible, and his motives sincere. Full-frontal nudity definitely requires a lot of nerve, and Middleton makes it seem entirely natural and not at all shocking, which is an art in itself.

Maggie Chretien as Jill – who lures Alan into Equus’s temple, which he then desecrates – is just gorgeous. Her Sloaney portrayal is coy and appealing, though it’s difficult to see why she’s even bothering with Alan, who is so skittish the pair is hard-pressed to move beyond holding hands. Elijah Egan lends light relief as the discourteously blunt Northerner Harry Dalton, the discombobulated stable owner who comes to regret taking a chance on Alan.

The anthropomorphised horses (Dylan Watson, Kellie Bray, Elijah Egan, Thomas Kay, Damien Harrison and Tilly Legge), visible throughout the entire performance, are the play’s famous coup de theatre. The nags react, shifting and whinnying during tense or revelatory moments, heightening the drama and making the production all the more spine-tingling.

The lighting is superb; the music spot-on and unobtrusive; the set exquisite; and the acting and direction top-notch. With this production, Chris Baldock’s Mockingbird Theatre proves beyond any doubt that it is one ensemble to really sit up and pay attention to.

Sign up to our monthly Arts newsletter

By Astrid Lawton   |  

Equus details

Cnr Sydney & Glenlyon Rds, Brunswick 3056

Telephone 03 9363 5909

Nearby Stations: Jewell; Brunswick

Price $25.00 to $30.00

Date 03 Aug 2013-17 Aug 2013

Open 8pm

Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

Town Hall Kebabs

43m - Going to the car wash can sure raise an appetite. Thankfully the good folk...

Amelia Shaw

45m - Brunswick’s finally got a real cocktail bar. You may not know about it yet...

Joey Smalls

75m - We’re all so familiar with the American diner that it takes very little...

Retreat Hotel

97m - The Brunswick legend has it all: good cheap beer, good cheap food, a 1920s...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

Brunswick Town Hall

66m - The Victorian-era Brunswick Town Hall host the Brunswick Music Festival...

More venues nearby
Petit Piknic

Petit Piknic

Melbourne's got the most fun, family-friendly Sunday session at Piknic Electronik

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more