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Jill Mason (Chandler Parrott-Thomas) explains that there is nothing to fear from Nugget (Martin Gilbertson).
Jill Mason (Chandler Parrott-Thomas) explains that there is nothing to fear from Nugget (Martin Gilbertson).

“Equus” at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa

Feb 20, 2018
by Alexa Chipman


‘Equus’ is a mesmerizing journey of metaphysical deduction by Peter Shaffer. Psychologist Dr. Martin Dysart seeks to understand why a teenager blinded horses under his care. Their court-appointed sessions are strained, leading Dysart to seek insight from the boy’s parents and tenaciously coax Alan Strang into reliving the choices leading up to his violent act.

Isolated and brimming with creative passion, Alan has formed elaborate personal rituals, from self-flagellation to wildly erotic bareback rides through the countryside. The teenager’s ferocious creed stirs the apathetic doctor whose life has become meaningless and repetitive, leading him to admire Alan’s faith, despite its revolting fruition.

Alan Strang (Ryan Severt) is overcome with awe by majestic horses (Juliet Noonan, Martin Gilbertson, Tara Howley).

6th Street Playhouse’s artistic director Craig A. Miller embodies the psychologist, musing through Shaffer’s rhythmic, profound language. Ryan Severt (Alan Strang) is eerily focused as the troubled young man, in an accessible and courageously vulnerable performance. Juliet Noonan transitions between a cantankerous nurse and distressed mother, effortlessly managing distinct English accents. John Shillington as the father covers up his emotional demons, hiding behind the façade of an intellectual, unable to comprehend the importance of consulting his son regarding distressing situations, rather than pretending nothing is wrong.

Dr. Martin Dysart (Craig A. Miller) visits the distraught parents (Juliet Noonan, John Shillington).There are no weak links in the ensemble; Chandler Parrott-Thomas (Jill Mason) captivates with few lines, presenting a resolute woman who is unafraid of Alan’s eccentricities. Stubborn with a gentle heart, Tara Howley as Hesther Salomon fights to save Alan, recognizing that the teenager is not evil, and can be rehabilitated. Filling in supporting roles, including a towering chestnut horse and irritated cinema patron, Martin Gilbertson adds touches of humor to an otherwise bleak drama.

Director Lennie Dean calls the play a timeless mirror to our current culture, and stages it in fluid motion to allow for multiple angles in the intimate theater. Scenic design by Conor Woods is a rough barn with low railings in a neutral palette that is reflected in the gray and brown toned costumes, focusing on the actors, rather than elaborate sets.

6th Street Playhouse’s ‘Equus’ is a superb examination of passion and belief with a talented cast and outstanding direction by Lennie Dean.


(Mature content advisory, due to themes and nudity)
Presented by 6th Street Playhouse through February 25, 2018
Thur/Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm

Studio Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse
52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 523-4185

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Alexa Chipman Theater reviews


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