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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  15,652 Ratings  ·  447 Reviews
In "Equus," which took critics and public alike by storm and has gone on to become a modern classic, Peter Shaffer depicts the story of a deranged youth who blinds six horses with a spike. Through a psychiatrist's analysis of the events, Shaffer creates a chilling portrait of how materialism and convenience have killed our capacity for worship and passion and, consequently ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 2nd 1984 by Penguin Books (first published 1973)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 16, 2007 stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
i am a little sad that the play was recast with daniel radcliffe, as i feel that everyone now associates this brilliant, brilliant work with naked harry potter and a horse.

this is so much more than that. this is one of the greatest works of drama (and psychology) i think ever written. we read this my senior year of high school, in my ap lit course, with mr. hackling (one of my favorite teachers ever). and we read it in conjunction with our philosophy of religion course, so that we had four-time
Apr 18, 2016 Sookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, 2016
Shaffer starts the play by offering the readers and audiences alike, a character to dislike - even hate. As the play progresses, the psychologist takes the audience into the minds of the troubled young teen who blinded six horses. Very early on the psychologist makes a note of Alan's reciprocity during his sessions; the unabashed effort being covert or being blatantly verbally abusive to his doctor only showed the extent of devolution of his mind. Alan's mind warps God, horses, religion and its ...more
Ryan Chapman
Apr 23, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't care if it took Harry Potter to disrobe for people to finally see this masterwork. This is without a doubt my favorite play from one of my favorite playwrights. Like most great works, it conflates several dichotomies without leaning too heavily on any of them. Adolescene v. adulthood? Check. Urban v. Rural? Check. Rationalism v. Romanticism? Check. A teenage boy blinding six horses in a fit of psychosexual mania? Check.

There's whispers the London production's coming stateside. If so, I
Bookish Dervish
Dec 27, 2015 Bookish Dervish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given this play by a dear friend of mine. Once I set sail through its pages, I got addicted to it. Now it's 6:00 AM and I have been reading it all through the night. What I like most about it is that it is psychological. The plot is well built. I also like the part where Alan and Dysart mutually investigate the matter of each other's dreams to find out that it was the shrink's dream is more related to illnesses the dream being the doctor practicing the ritual of sacrificing hundreds of chi ...more
Trust me: it's not just that play about Harry Potter getting (a) naked and (b) it on with a horse. It's about the construction of God and meaning in the modern waste land; and perhaps even more compellingly, about the moral dilemma of a therapist who has to convince his patient to abandon all escape routes and return to the waste land. (In that sense, it reminds me a great deal of Pat Barker's Regeneration .) It's a play of ideas, basically, only thinly veiled by its outrageous subject matter. ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Devastating. Compelling. A must read.
Sep 24, 2011 Ali rated it it was amazing
(Very minor spoilers). I love works that try to make you sympathize with the villain, rather than making them out to be barely human monsters, as so many books and movies tend to do. I can't help but think it's mostly laziness on the part of the creators. It's easier to create someone who, as the main character in Peter Shaffer's play, hurts animals in a fit of insanity and leave it at that, letting the audience mindlessly hate him, than it is to create a villain and really dig into his motives, ...more
Adam Floridia
Mar 21, 2016 Adam Floridia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
On re-reading 3/20/16: I've re-read this numerous times since my junior year of high school; however, the last time was probably about a decade ago. Now, in revising my ENG 102 class and realizing that I can assign any play I want, it seemed obvious to revisit my favorite. Did I just happen to read this at the right time in life? Would its gilded status now be tarnished by me being a different reader? NOPE! The book is amazing; it will definitely be assigned reading. My mind is already buzzing w ...more
Nov 23, 2008 Baiocco rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Is it even possible to discuss Equus anymore without considering Harry Potter's wang? Were there conversations that existed about this strange, psychological, pre Law and Order play that didn't include a nude Daniel Radcliffe and horses? I never even saw the play but it was impossible to walk down a city block on the west side of Manhatten without seeing posters of that hilarious extra from the show "Extras" staring blankly at any passerby, arms outstretched christ-on-a-cross-like with his lower ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Spigana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pirmā luga manā dzīvē, kuras lasīšanu es izbaudīju, galvenokārt droši vien tāpēc, ka vide šeit nav nozīmīga, svarīga ir tikai saruna un rakšanās Alana galvā. Un dīvainā kārtā, par spīti vides otršķirīgumam, visa darbība manā galvā zīmējās ļoti spilgtā filmā.

Althea J.
Dec 28, 2014 Althea J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, so much to think about.
What do you choose, passionless sanity or ecstasy-filled worship and obsession?

I wish I could've seen Daniel Radcliffe in this play. I pictured him as Alan as I read it but I bet his performance was phenomenal.

And how ironic that he starred in this play at the height of the Harry Potter fandom. Mr. Radcliffe could probably tell you all about what passionate worship looks like from the perspective of the horse.
3 stars
I forgot to mark that I'd finished this because I've been so busy, but I do have to say this was...interesting. I read it for my Writing About Literature class for our "drama section" and thought it fit well — take that as you will.

Equus tells the story of a disturbed young man named Alan Strang who violently blinds six horses. Instead of going to prison, he's "saved" by Dysart, a psychiatrist. Feeling as though he's stuck in his job, Dysart thinks Alan will be the perfect way to sort of
This play has sat on my shelf for eight years after getting it for a dollar at a theater flea market. (It's a Samuel French edition, but from London; the size is all wrong and the paper is all funny.) It seemed like a good idea at the time, since coming out of high school I self-educated myself in playwriting by simply reading every play I'd heard of. Heard of this one! But then I just sat there with it. A couple Saturdays ago I pulled it down to read. The play is getting a lot of press right no ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Eric Kibler
Shelves: 2014-books
When I tried to read more short stories last year, I failed miserably as I really dislike the genre. I decided to try to read more drama as I enjoyed it in high school and took a Shakespeare and another drama course in college and since then had read none. For my summer BOTNS Bingo Challenge, I got the square that said "A play". Many thanks to Eric Kibler who recommended a handful of his favorites, Equus among them. I had never seen it performed and knew t was about horses. Written in 1973, it i ...more
Nethaniel Martinez
Mar 08, 2015 Nethaniel Martinez rated it it was ok
The play is a well written one with a very memorable story line and in depth characters. The plot is a well thought out one and the way horses are portrayed could change the way you see them if you are someone with a weaker mind. However I found it weak but that is just my opinion. Writing the play in the eyes of Dysart is one the author chose but not one that I agree on, I feel like 3rd person would have been more effective. The idea of it being the kids fault or the parents fault that they bec ...more
Sep 10, 2015 Ioana rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loves this play.

It's about religion and how believing (or not) in something may affect our life. It's about right and wrong. What is normality? Should you strive to be normal or is that just another word for boring, the same as everyone. Should we envy the passion and dedication those deemed not normal have for their obsessions?

Here is my favorite part from one of doctor Dysarts monologues :

"The Normal is the indispensable, murderous God of Health, and I am his Priest. My tools ar
Nov 16, 2014 Alejandra rated it really liked it
This play is not something I would usually read for fun but I also do not regret reading it because even though it was unusual it gave me a new perspective by the different ideas of all the characters. Something that I disagreed with was the part where Alan's mom was telling Dysart that it was not the parents fault of the their children being the way they are because I believe parents do have a huge impact in a children's life and sometimes it is their fault because in this case Dora kept puttin ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play asks many important questions. What is the definition of normal, and what is the benefit of moving a human being in closer proximity to it? The question, "I have galloped; have you?" echoes Thoreau's desire "to live deeply and suck out all the marrow of life..."

I have become a fan of Peter Shaffer's work after seeing Amadeus both performed live and adapted to film. I had first heard of Equus a few years ago, when Daniel Radcliffe's portrayal of horse-obsessed Alan Strang garnered much
Jun 19, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, plays
I had never seen this play when I noticed the obit of its author, Peter Shaffer (also the author of Amadeus) recently, so that motivated me to check it out.

I thought the play was masterfully written, but without giving away key plot details, I held back on my rating because the play in part is driven by what I think is an outmoded and even dangerous idea -- that mental illness is a gift that should not necessarily be "cured" by psychiatrists.

The plot is stark and brutal. A young man, Alan Stran
Apr 26, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Amadeus, so I decided to read this as well. At first, I wasn't sure where Shaffer was going, what point he was making. Alan is a a seventeen-year-old boy in a mental hospital because he stabbed six horses in the eyes with a metal pick. Dysart is Alan's doctor, and he wants to help Alan as well as understand him. He wants to know why he did it, why people do things like that, and why he has to "fix them."
Shaffer does an excellent job of characterizing Alan and Dysart before he r
May 31, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it
In a play including a character as complex as Alan Strang, who is sucking the cream off of a horse’s neck in one moment, and blinding six with a metal spike in the next, Peter Shaffer makes it an adventure for his readers to focus on the meat of his play. Equus, based on an actual crime that occurred in London, follows the psychoanalysis of a deranged youth who commits a heinous act against six horses, but it is the revelations of his psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, that emanate the play’s true ...more
May 20, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
maybe 2.5??? idk i need to think on it but first impression lmAO i've had this book since hs and for the fricking life of me the only reason i'da pick this up is bc of daniel radcliffe and i just... man. i couldn't stop laughiHGN like i took it kinda srsly but mostly.. i just kept thinking 'he wants to sex a horse' and stared into space. ... obvs i'm starting to think plays aren't for me
Ian Johnston
Jul 22, 2013 Ian Johnston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing play by an exceptional playwright. I'm into reading plays so I understand they are not for everyone, but Equus might be worth your time even if you don't generally read plays. Shaffer describes in enough detail the atmosphere his play is meant to evoke, and like most good plays it's all in the dialogue. The play is about a psychologist named Dysart who has been tasked with "curing" Alan Strang, a young man with a religious obsession with horses. Of course, there is more to the play th ...more
Kristīne Līcis
Devastating take on attempts to conceal adolescent sexual exaltation behind religious fervor, to both fit in the hypocritical normalcy (enter the character of Frank Strang, the father), and to rebel against that. Alan is sunk in this glowing world of horses, and Equus the God replaces Normal the God. But "The Lord thy God is a Jealous God. He sees you. He sees you forever and ever, Alan." So you take the eyes out. What's to blame, nature or nurture?

"Can you think of anything worse one can do to
Disturbing, psychological, maddeningly sad, worshipful. The characters have issues that are never resolved and the reader/viewer is made to feel a part of the broken system. To be alive is to be too wild. To live is to be reckless, cause damage, make noise, make mistakes.
Jim Coughenour
Sep 16, 2009 Jim Coughenour rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Back in the 70s I saw the Sidney Lumet film version of this play and was bowled over by Richard Burton and Peter Firth. As I remember, the audience stumbled out of the theatre in stunned silence. (And yes, at that point, the full frontal nudity was shocking: it worked exactly as Shaffer hoped it would, I'd guess.)

Recently I decided to read the script, which is sparer than the film. Thirty years later the play's tortured psychological revelations do feel a bit dated, but Equus is still a solid pi
Apr 10, 2014 Fati rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
Facinating, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the psychological game of who's curing who. It is a play that makes you dig deeper into your own self. Allan has been able to explore the MARVELLOUS and create his own world of fantacy, worshiping his own God "Equus".
I feel thrilled and speechless because this play had a great impact on me. Altough its perversity It's just awsome. It will take you elsewhere.
Jacyra Araújo
Dec 06, 2015 Jacyra Araújo rated it really liked it
Every child psychiatrist worse nightmare. The bottom line is primum non nocere.
Oct 17, 2015 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was so amazingly good. The symbolism was just too good, and well I'm not even sure what to say right now. I might update this after I collect my thoughts some more.
أحمد مصلح
استمتعت بقرائتها رغم عدم ميلي لقراءة المسرحيات بشكل عام
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Does Alan want to have sex with Jill? 5 41 Mar 20, 2012 12:36PM  
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Sir Peter Levin Shaffer was an English dramatist, author of numerous award-winning plays, several of which have been filmed.

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“Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.” 29 likes
“He'll be delivered from madness. What then? He'll feel himself acceptable! What then? Do you think feelings like his can be simply re-attached, like plasters? Stuck on to other objects we select? Look at him! ... My desire might be to make this boy an ardent husband - a caring citizen - a worshipper of abstract and unifying God. My achievement, however, is more likely to make a ghost!” 25 likes
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