Equus
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Equus

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  11,012 ratings  ·  354 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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stephanie
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...more
Ryan Chapman
Apr 23, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Ali
(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
Baiocco
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
Leigh
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. P...more
Kate
Jun 19, 2014 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Lizzie
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
Denise
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
Laura
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
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
Jim Coughenour
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...more
Fati
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.
Peter Kolesnikov
Peter Shaffer can do no wrong. Equus, Royal Hunt of the Sun and Amadeus...all great reads. Equus is disturbing in a way the other two plays aren't: budding sexuality crossed with an unhealthy fear of God, horses' eyes, but most importantly the therapist's belief that the adjusted existence to which he is supposed to return his patients is a barren and empty one. Favorite quote: "My desire might be to make this boy an ardent husband - a caring citizen - a worshipper of abstract and unifying God....more
Wayne Crich
A surprisingly good play, worth checking out if you have not read it or worth a re read if you have.
Luke
This is surely an intriguing story and the staging and structure was inventive. There are several big ideas woven into this compact piece. I read it in about an hour and half.
Many people seem to think that this book deals with the way modern society has dulled our capacity for awe and worship. The psychiatrist in the book even comes to envy the horse-worshipping patient because he hasn't lost his capacity for his adoration. This, I cannot go along with. Even just within the context of the book,...more
Andy
Jul 17, 2008 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: horse players
Shelves: kool-imports
Nightmarish play about a disturbed 17-year old stable boy who's awful with the girls but loves the horses more. He ends up racing about naked in the middle of the night and blinds the horses. Homo-eroticism blends in with angry punk energy UK style to create a play both sexy and horrifying.
Adam Floridia
This was the first book that made me truly appreciate literature. I always thought that symbolism and deeper meaning was a load of crap; this play changed my opinion. It deals with discovering one's true PASSION in life, which is, perhaps, the most important thing there is.
Jennifer Lauren Collins
Brilliant and clever, Shaffer's play revolves around a give-and-take of innocence and violence, belief and insecurity. Even though the play is obviously meant to be seen on the stage, it comes across nearly as smartly on the page as the characters spiral forward. Few characters make for an easy reading experience, and the abstract nature of the effects--when you take the time to imagine them as originally created and directed--may be nearly as powerful as Shaffer envisioned them if given real at...more
Christopher
Peter Shaffer's 1972 play Equus is an original and often shocking portrayal of the relationship between Martin Dysart, a child psychiatrist, and Alan Strang, a young man who has blinded six horses with a spike. Shaffer's striking message is that modern technology and convenience has weakened Man by removing his capacity for worship and his understanding of pain. The playwright has given Dysart the hobby of archeology of ancient Greece, a time when people saw the hand of the gods in everything, a...more
Juliet Wilson
Ostensibly the story of a doctor-patient relationship, Equus is just as limited by the therapist's suite as is Casablanca limited by the walls of Rick's Cafe.

The genuis of Shaffer is that he manages to create characters so indelible and unforgettable that they leap out of the read page just as much or more as they do out of the performed page. Put another way, even without Burton in the cinema or Hopkins on Broadway, his Dr. Dysart connects with you. You can easily find yourself joining Dysart...more
Kaethe
In the latter half of the 20th century, talk therapy was viewed as a kind of treatment for mental illness. Despite the fact that it isn't at all effective in treating psychosis, and is rarely effective in lessening symptoms of other mental illnesses, writers seized upon the idea of that dramatic breakthrough moment. In this play Shaffer asks what would make a young man do something so heinous as blinding horses, and decides that it's a fair cop, but society is to blame, because culture is trivia...more
cras culture
really really weird and wonderful. unfortunately, in the end it all makes so much sense.
Victoria
I've been trying to read more (non-Shakespeare) plays lately, and it was hard to ignore the pull of curiosity to read this one, given how unorthodox and eerily controversial its premise is. But in this case, Equus was one of those works that ended up being a lot deeper and more far-reaching for me than the 'scandalous' gossip surrounding it suggested.

It's actually a very short and straightforward play (only two acts), where you have no difficulty keeping track of the characters, setting, or act...more
Dexter
This was a very strange, but riveting, play. It's a psychological mystery that keeps the reader glued, in rapture, to the narrative. Adjectives to describe it are: deep, mysterious, unusual, sexual, horrific, philosophical, religious, psychological, innate, otherworldly.

The play covers the case of Alan Strang, a boy who, with a tool, blinds six horses without explanation and is sent to a psychiatric ward, where he is examined and talked to by the head psychiatrist. Over the course of the play, t...more
Yasmine
I am sure over half of my classmates won't believe their eyes, seeing I am giving this four stars. After all, this is not a play that would generally be appreciated by ordinary horse lovers. Most probably, many would prefer to avoid it.
Unfortunately though, I ended up holding it in my hands as it was on the list of books-to-buy for the new school year. Sooner or later, I had to leaf its pages.
I will begin by saying that I never came across a play like this one before. In this play, a vivid imagi...more
John
Psychiatrist Martin Dysart is almost sleeping walking through middle-age on the downward slope to his twilight years. His marriage is passionless and empty. He goes to work at the hospital every day and helps the patients in his care.
At the behest of his friend, Hester Salomon, a magistrate disturbed by the case of Alan Strang, a young man who’s been arrested for blinding six horses, Martin agrees to take him on as his patient and becomes embroiled in discovering Alan’s motivations for his crim...more
Fox
Jan 19, 2012 Fox rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Krissy
I've been meaning to read this book for years - since 2008, apparently. I picked this one up last year, and finally got around to reading it. Four years to read a book - quite a while, innit?

Anyroad, I'm not entirely certainw hat I thought I'd be getting into. My impressions of the book were largely gleaned from disillusioned Harry Potter fans (How could Radcliffe do this??) and confused media reviews about a play with bestiality at its center. Well, the script was nothing like that.

The play was...more
Lindsey Wikman
I read it in one sitting, not only because it is so short, but because you truly cannot wait to see how this story unfolds. I am going to try to write this without spoinling anything. I will tell you that it is about a boy named Alan Strange who you first meet when he is sent to an institution for disturbed youth. He is being treated by a phychiatrist there and you discover in the first few minutes of the play that Alan is charged withblinding six horses with a metal spike.

There is a fast paced...more
Misha
Equus has been a favourite for several years. I’ve read the play countless times, saw the same production two nights in a row, and watched the film version with Richard Burton. It’s one of the few plays that never gets stale, there's always something new.

A teenage boy undergoes therapy after committing a crime on the basis that "what the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over". How and why could he do such a thing? That’s for the psychiatrist and audience to find out. Intense and dark,...more
Mike
The framing device of Equus - a story told in flash-back from a mental hospital - is a little distancing and problematic. The revelations of a character's humanity do not come from character's actions raw; rather, they are tempered by the opinings and judgments of our Shrink-protagonist. Equus could have succeeded more if it granted itself the opportunity to expose the rawness of the events live and let the human elements speak for themselves. Shaffer overestimated the profundity of his intellec...more
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Does Alan want to have sex with Jill? 5 35 Mar 20, 2012 12:36PM  
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Sir Peter Levin Shaffer is an English dramatist, author of numerous award-winning plays, several of which have been filmed.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Sh...
More about Peter Shaffer...
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“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!” 19 likes
“Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.” 14 likes
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