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Horse Play

Award-winning Equus gallops onto the Beck stage.

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Back in 1975, when Peter Shaffer’s Equus opened on Broadway, it created quite a stir. The story centered on a 17-year-old boy who rammed spikes into the eyes of five horses. But in the wake of Columbine, the play looks kinda tame today, admits William Roudebush, who directs the Beck Center’s production opening tonight. “When this was written, it was an absurd event for theatrical purposes,” he says. “There are more frightening things today. It’s interesting to look at this in light of all the things that have happened in the past 30 years.”

Still, it’s a powerful tale involving a psychiatrist, sexual demons, and other drama-baiting themes. “It’s like a Law & Order episode,” says Roudebush, whose 2001 staging of Equus in Philadelphia snagged a couple of prestigious awards. He reconfigured the Beck’s stage to accommodate the play’s complex set design. He even installed subwoofers under the seats to get the whole theater shaking. “I really wanted to revisit this play and re-imagine it,” he says. “I learn so much about it every time I stage it.”
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 2. Continues through Feb. 25

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