It’s nice to be shocked now and again. And no, we’re not talking about the nudity in Equus that gets all the attention (though we’ll get to that later). What we’re talking about is the ability of Uptown Players to consistently, competently, reinvent itself.
Often home to high-camp, drag-queen comedies and raucous musicals, it takes the occasional drama thrown in each season to remind us that this theater company is actually as good at delivering gut-wrenching performances as it is gut-busting belly laughs.
And in its new, semi-permanent home at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, it feels like our little baby is all grown up.
Staging Equus as the first regular season production at Kalita Humphreys is pure genius. By bringing a highly buzzed about, controversial project to the larger space they were sure to fill seats and the effort paid off tremendously.
The play was written in 1973 and has had incarnations all over the world, including a feature film starring Richard Burton, but it didn’t become part of the modern zeitgeist until Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame bared all in the 2007 London revival.
Suddenly, everyone knew that Equus was that play with a naked guy. Oh, and somehow horses were involved.
The subject matter may not be quite as shocking as it was in 1973, but with inventive direction by Bruce R. Coleman and voracious performances by Max Swarmer as Alan Strang and Rick Espaillat as his psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, the Uptown Players production is dark, moody and at times electrifyingly raw.
Swarmer gets plenty of time to show off his built-for-nudity body and the six sexy “horses,” on-stage through most of the show, provide plenty of eye-candy distraction (especially for people like the guys behind us who kept complaining that there was too much dialogue and they were confused).
Here’s a tip. If you’re perplexed, don’t admit it out loud. Comment on the set design or which actor portraying a horse had the most realistic gallop.
Whether you’re a frequent patron of Uptown Players or you only think of them as the “guys that put on gay plays,” it’s time to check out this inspired production.
Come for the wiener, stay for a winner.
Runs through March 21, 2010
Reserved Tickets: $30 – $40
Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek, Dallas
(entrance off Blackburn, Lemmon entrance closed)