Equus horse head

Equus horse head

Equus by Peter Shaffer (born 1926) was staged by the National Theatre company in 1973 at the Old Vic Theatre. It was directed by John Dexter.

It dealt with the question of why a boy blinded the horses which he cared for passionately. To cure him - make him 'normal' - will mean depriving him of an important part of himself and what makes him human. The action was set in a scene like a boxing ring, with the audience on two sides, almost as though the confrontation of the boy with his analyst was a fight to the death.

A problem for the designer John Napier was to evoke the horses without falling into anything that might remind audiences of a pantomime horse. The solution was to merely suggest the animals by these hauntingly beautiful outline horses' heads. The actors also wore high 'hoofs' made in a similar style. This simplicity reflected John Dexter's spare, pared-down production where the flick of a head was enough to suggest a horse's movement.