Lake Dillon challenges audience with ‘Equus’ | SummitDaily.com
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Lake Dillon challenges audience with ‘Equus’

LESLIE BREFELDsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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DILLON – Making a deep connection with a “looney” is enough to make you question your own sanity. Playwright Peter Shaffer wrote “Equus” in the 1970s after hearing about an atrocious crime committed by a teenage boy. The reasons why and how an event like this could have happened were made up, and make up the storyline of the play.Essentially a mystery, “Equus” unravels the story of 17-year-old Alan Strang, played by Josh Blanchard, through his therapy sessions with psychiatrist Martin Dysart, played by Gary Ketzenbarger.As the play moves, the connection between the boy – who is called a “looney” by his boss for the act which has landed him in his situation of being examined – and his therapist grow stronger as the man looks at his life differently than he ever has before.The compelling way the story is told hooks attention almost immediately. Nearly every story or confession told is simultaneously acted out in flashback form, allowing the viewer to know the characters at a more intimate level.Blanchard described the progression, “Characters step in and out of past and present reality. It’s certainly not typical play structure, in terms of beginning, middle and end.””It’s not really naturalistic – looking through the window at everyday life,” Ketzenbarger said. “The protagonist goes back and forth talking to the audience and himself trying to understand how all this happened.”Themes in the play range from evaluating the importance of normalcy to religion and worship to the role of a psychiatrist. “I think it examines how society and an individual can bring people to do certain actions and the ramifications not just on the individual, but on all involved,” Blanchard said.In diving into the mind of Strang, the audience meets the boy’s parents – Dora Strang played by Kelly Ketzenbarger and Frank Strang (Micheal Martorano).Dora’s religious zeal has unintentionally thwarted her son, Kelly Ketzenbarger said of her character. At the same time she is unable to accept responsibility for her actions. This clashes with Frank Strang, an announced atheist, who does little in the way of trying to understand his son.

The compelling way the story is told hooks attention almost immediately. Nearly every story or confession told is simultaneously acted out in flashback form, allowing the viewer to know the characters at a more intimate level.Blanchard described the progression, “Characters step in and out of past and present reality. It’s certainly not typical play structure, in terms of beginning, middle and end.””It’s not really naturalistic – looking through the window at everyday life,” Ketzenbarger said. “The protagonist goes back and forth talking to the audience and himself trying to understand how all this happened.”

Themes in the play range from evaluating the importance of normalcy to religion and worship to the role of a psychiatrist. “I think it examines how society and an individual can bring people to do certain actions and the ramifications not just on the individual, but on all involved,” Blanchard said.In diving into the mind of Strang, the audience meets the boy’s parents – Dora Strang played by Kelly Ketzenbarger and Frank Strang (Micheal Martorano).Dora’s religious zeal has unintentionally thwarted her son, Kelly Ketzenbarger said of her character. At the same time she is unable to accept responsibility for her actions. This clashes with Frank Strang, an announced atheist, who does little in the way of trying to understand his son.

Each of the characters remains on stage throughout the play, watching the boy struggle with taking ownership of the act he’s committed.”It’s beautiful, the level of insight the playwright had for the boy’s mental state,” said Kelly Ketzenbarger, who has experience working with the mentally ill.”It’s the most provoking and cathartic piece I have ever directed,” artistic director Chris Alleman said.

“Equus” opens at the Lake Dillon Theatre tonight at 7:30 p.m. Its run will continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 18.Call (970) 513-9386 or visit http://www.lakedillontheatre.org for tickets; $15 for adults or $12 for students.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626, or lbrefeld@summitdaily.com.


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