The Actors Preparatory Exchange (APEX) Theater in Tyler opened their production of the Tony Award-winning play, Equus, this weekend. Written in 1973 by Peter Shaffer, this play explores the relationship between a very troubled young man and his psychiatrist. The play touches on themes of mental health, religious beliefs and many other delicate, often over-looked aspects of the human condition.
While I will say that I highly recommend this play, I must say that it is not for everybody. This play is highly dramatic, at times kind of rough and contains nudity and some language that may offend some viewers. That all said, none of those things, language, nudity or themes that may be deemed offensive, are used gratuitously. Quite to the contrary, this play is VERY tastefully done. It is visually stimulating in every way and the closest thing I have ever found to a two-hour roller coaster ride.
If you are a fan of intense dramatical productions, Equus at APEX is a MUST SEE for several reasons. The main reason is the quality of this production. Matthew James Butler, who plays the role of Alan Strang, puts on a performance that leaves you wondering how he gets on with his real life after the performance. He is completely believable in this role and his energy keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the play.
The role of Dr. Martin Dysart, Strang’s psychiatrist, is played by APEX co-founder and Executive Producer, Chris Abraham. Chris is a veteran of the stage and in this role it shows. Just as the Strang character moves you up and down throughout the play, Abraham’s portrayal of Dr. Dysart provides an even keel from which Butler’s character plays off of, but not without adding some intriguing subplot and content to the story. The two play very, very well off of each other.
Other characters in the play are Dora and Frank Strang, Alan’s parents. These roles are played by Robin Morris and John Trube, both of whom do a wonderful job in the portrayal of the parents of this troubled young man and how their influences during his childhood may have resulted in his troubles.
The rest of the cast consists of Suzanne Alford as Hesther Saloman and a horse, Stan King as stable owner, Harry Dalton, Mike Leatherwood as Nugget and a young horseman, Jill Hsu as a horse (and technical assistant), Tim Mitchiner (lighting), Hannah Morris (stage manager, lighting design) and Jennifer Rader as Jill Mason, a love interest of Alan Strang’s. It is hard to say without sounding patronizing, but every actor’s performance, every character development and every technical aspect of this play is tremendous. Director, Felicity Enas, did a wonderful job of putting all of the pieces of this complex work together and bringing it to life, truly a masterful piece of directing. APEX had an original score created for this show by Charles Praytor of Tyler.
This theater is small. It seats only about 50 people, making the experience that much more intimate for the audience and the actors alike. There is not a bad seat in the house.
When you leave this play, part of you will feel like you have been beaten, part of you will feel like you have been rejuvenated and taught a life lesson and part of you will continue, over the next few days, to try to sort through it all and determine what it all really means to you. Again, if you love a good drama, GO SEE THIS PLAY.
There are two more performances of Equus, October 25th and 26th at 7:30 at the APEX Theater in Tyler. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online here.
The theater is located in the back of the Energy Center on Front St. in Tyler.
Scott Hazard – Mineola Buzz
Actors Preparatory Exchange
719 W. Front St. Suite 20
Tyler, TX 75702