Peter Shaffer’s play Equus in its most basic description is the story of a young man severely troubled by his religious inclinations and, as a result, commits a brutal crime against the animals he loves. The entire play takes place in Dr. Dysart’s office, the psychiatrist who has been charged by the court to discover the boy’s motivations in stabbing out the eyes of six horses that had been under his care. As the two men discuss what happened, the characters of Alan’s memory appear around the outside edges of the stage. Although the play has been called bizarre and meaningless, Shaffer is able to bring about a deeply introspective examination into the modern world’s dehumanization effect and the continuing need for spiritual passion through his reliance on deeply-rooted human theology. Before the play begins, most audiences are made aware of the fact that the play to follow is based upon a single piece of information regarding an allegedly true-life crime that Shaffer once heard about. He freely admits that he doesn’t know any of the details of the story beyond the one concluding fact that a boy stabbed out the eyes of a stable-full of horses. As he describes it, the friend who told him the story died before he could find out more information about the story and that he has been unable to find evidence of the story in the years since publishing the play (Pugh, 2009). ...
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