Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in Equus

Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in Equus

Equus was first produced in 1973 while the National Theatre company was based at the Old Vic Theatre.

A psychiatrist, Dysart, investigates the case of a disturbed young man who has blinded six horses. In discovering the boy's problems Dysart confronts his own self doubts, and the play questions the value of a psychiatric cure in which intellect destroys passion. The production, directed by John Dexter, was intensely theatrical. A section of the audience sat at the rear of the stage, close to the action, which took place in an area likened to a boxing ring or a bull fight arena. Actors remained on stage, becoming witnesses to events as well as participants. Stylised metal masks and hooves turned actors into terrifying horses.

Shaffer created a memorable central role for the tormented psychiatrist, played in London by Alec McCowen and on Broadway by Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton.