NOTE: This should have been posted a while back, but I never got the chance.
This past weekend, Daniel Radcliffe said goodbye to his controversial role of Alan Strang in Equus as he made his last performance at the Broadhurst Theater. Dan will take his final bow as the troubled teen along with his costar Richard Griffiths – the end of the run of a show that he’s been doing since he was seventeen. As much as I would have loved to have been there, I was only lucky enough to be part of the audience for the last time just days before the final curtain call.
What I first dubbed as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” easily turned into three as I just couldn’t get enough of the horse-play with the muscular actors and a very naked Boy-Who-Lived. I stood outside the stage door. My fingers were numb and it was a miracle that I could still hold on to my digital camera with one hand and the playbill on the other. Overzealous fan girls were pushing at me from every direction but I stayed put. I felt the anticipation from the pit of my stomach. I knew that being out there on a Thursday night was ridiculous – I missed a fencing meet that night and I had a major biology test the next day. But would everything be worth it? Hell yes. Because this time, I was determined to leave that night with Daniel Radcliffe’s autograph.
For most of December and the whole of January, I tried to convince myself that it was impractical to see Equus a third time. “There’s a financial crisis out there!” I tried to remind myself. I should be saving money for those expensive standardized tests and application fees. But I was clearly losing an internal battle. I hadn’t yet gotten the satisfaction of meeting Daniel Radcliffe. It was crucial that I see the play one more time – wasn’t it obvious how distracting it was to my school work? How could I possibly concentrate on spontaneous reactions or the details of the Calvin cycle during photosynthesis when all I could think about is seeing Daniel Radcliffe mount fellow costar Lorenzo Pisoni one last time?
I couldn’t resist. As soon as “discount tickets” left the mouth of my aunt, I was planning the week before the show closed to get tickets. I was so ecstatic to have scored second row seats in the right orchestra. I was shocked that it was my sister who I ended up dragging along, but I couldn’t be happier to share my love for Equus. I was determined to prove her wrong. Seeing the show three times was not excessive at all. I wasn’t coming back just for the autograph – experiencing the show for the last time was a treat altogether.
After the third time seeing the play, I could practically recite the lines of Dr. Martin Dysart as he explained how a passion like Alan’s could not be created by a doctor. I knew when to brace myself for a particularly scary scene or when to sit on the edge of my seat. I nearly had the whole play committed to memory, but I could not shake off the feeling of when Dan walks on the stage for the first time, the laughter that bubbles out of me whenever a joke is told, or that overwhelming intensity of the final scene of the play.
Gone were the days of when I thought Broadway was all about musicals where actors spontaneously sang in the middle of a scene. I was absolutely moved every time I saw Equus. No movie, television show, or play had ever surfaced such emotions from me or made me think as hard. While I had never gouged out the eyes of six horses nor had a dream about slicing open children, I was able to put myself in the position of Alan and Dr. Dysart. I felt how difficult it was for Alan to have conflicting views on religion in his family to the point that he was pushed over the edge and started to worship an equine deity. I knew exactly what Dr. Dysart meant when he said that though Alan was a troubled young man, he was jealous of the passion he had for Equus. Like Dr. Dysart, I now wish to find something for which I have a strong passion as Alan had a passion for horses.
I’d like to think that my past three experiences with Broadway had left me with positive changes. Sure, Equus had me tinkering on the border of obsession, but it’s also given me an appreciation for theater. Equus might have been my first, but it will definitely not be my last.
As Dan says goodbye to Broadway and New York City, I’m desperately clinging to the hope that it isn’t goodbye forever. After he makes those blockbuster Harry Potter movies, I’m hoping that he enjoyed his experience on Broadway enough to come back and star in another hit play. Harry Potter: The Musical, anyone?