Bareback In London, May Ride To B’Way

Daniel Radcliffe
The London revival of Peter Shaffer’s powerful drama about a teenage boy who takes off his clothes and blinds horses began previews on Friday, but it has caused so much buzz that producers already are planning to bring it to Broadway in the fall.
One problem, though, is the length.
Of the play, people, the play!
“Equus” clocks in at nearly three hours, which is a bit of a slog, according to London theater sources who sneaked in early because they couldn’t wait to get a look at John Napier’s stunning set.
These high-minded people, serious theatergoers all, say part of the problem is that Richard Griffiths, who plays the psychiatrist, is still struggling with his lines. In fact, teleprompters have been installed in the wings to help him out.
The producers are said to be nervous about his performance, but those who know the actor well are confident he’ll pull himself together in time for the Feb. 27 opening.
And anyone who saw him last season on Broadway in “The History Boys” – for which he won a Tony – knows how brilliant he can be.
“Richard’s always slow to get the lines,” one source says. “But when he gets in his stride – and he will – he’ll be terrific, as he always is.”
All weekend, the theater was packed with teenage girls (mostly American, it seems) who are obviously Peter Shaffer fanatics.
I’m told the 80-year-old playwright is mobbed at the stage door every night.
As an added bonus, the girls get to see Radcliffe, known the world over as Harry Potter, doing some serious acting.
“He’s intense and dynamic,” one spy says. “This is an extremely daring choice for him, and he’s thrown himself into it like a seasoned pro.”
Where he comes up short (at least in one instance) is in the sex-
appeal department. Because he must appear naked on stage for 15 minutes, he’s bulked up. But he’s surprisingly asexual, my spies say.
“You’ve got to be a serious pedophile to find him sexy,” one person says. “He’s a teenage boy who is not fully developed yet.”
The sexual chemistry between Radcliffe and the actress who plays his girlfriend seems to be lacking. There should also be some sexual tension between him and Griffiths, but that, too, is not apparent yet in this production. (Maybe we should be grateful for small favors.)
Since some theatergoers are there to get a glimpse of Harry Potter in the nude, the house is full of security guards. Right before Radcliffe disrobes, they fan out into the aisles, looking everywhere for cameras. They’ve missed a few, however, and pictures have appeared all over the Web.
“Equus” will open next week with $3 million in the bank, the highest advance for a nonmusical play in West End history.
The production ends its limited run at the beginning of June, when Radcliffe takes off to film the sixth installment of the “Harry Potter” series.
The plan is to move the production to Broadway after that, with Griffiths and Radcliffe reprising their roles.
“Is it great theater? No. Not yet,” says a London source. “But it’s event theater. There’s Harry Potter. In all his glory.”
from The New York Post


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