Tuesday, July 18, 2017
"As the play continued, Chris began to become sexually aroused. He shouted his lines with abandon, his erection becoming ever more painful and prominent as Greg carried him around the stage. The script called for the character to reach sexual orgasm while riding the horse. As he moaned and squealed, Chris began bucking and pressing his erection against Greg's head, his body writhing in the air, his need for release impossible to satisfy in front of the packed theater."
Equus is a 1973 play by Peter Shaffer, who later wrote Amadeus. There are two themes in the play. The first is carried on by a psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, who has come to believe that "normalcy" is dead and boring. A believer in the philosophical musings of Foucault, he is upset that he makes people "normal" at the cost of the belief, power, "worship", and even evil that make life worth living.
The other theme is carried out by 17-year-old boy Alan. Alan's mother is a Bible-humper, and his father is an atheist. Alan has had a lifelong fascination with horses. At the age of six, a stranger gave him a ride on a horse, during which Alan achieved sexual arousal. Since then, Alan has eroticized horses: He wants to be naked with them, feel their muscular bodies against his own, smell their sweat, and pet their coats. About a year ago, Alan became infatuated with violent themes in the Bible. Alan's father tore down a painting depicting Biblical violence which hung in Alan's room, and put up a poster of a horse.
The play is almost all flashback. Chronologically. the play's narrative is set in motion when Alan meets Jill, a girl who works in a horse stable. Alan takes a job at the stable, and is seemingly a hard worker. But at night, Alan secretly takes the largest horse, Nugget (whom Alan calls "Equus"), out for naked bareback rides. Alan fantasizes that he and Equus become one, destroying their mutual enemies. During these rides, Alan becomes sexually aroused and ejaculates. Alan reveals that he has long thought sex to be abnormal, as his mother has said. But Jill takes Alan to an adult theater, where they run into Alan's father. Although Alan is initially embarrassed by the meeting, he comes to realize that sex is normal and natural. Jill and Alan visit the stable, where Jill seduces Alan. But when Alan hears horses moving about below, he becomes impotent. He throws Jill out of the stables, and then confronts the horses. In Alan's deranged mind, he hears the horses telling him that they are jealous gods, and Alan must only have sex with them. Alan declares himself free from their influence -- and stabs all the horses in the eyes with a spike, because they have "seen his soul". Dr. Dysart, guilt-ridden over his "normalizing" of teenage boys, agrees to treat Alan, but realizes he will succeed only by taking away Alan's ability to worship, and to feel power and love.
The script calls for the actor playing Alan to be naked in several scenes. The play is usually staged with tall, muscular men playing the horses, wire cages around their heads mimicking the shape and outline of a horse's head.
It is not unusual for actors to achieve an erection during the play.