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Equus [Paperback]

Peter Shaffer
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Paperback, May 28 1984 --  
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Modern Classics Equus Modern Classics Equus
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Book Description

May 28 1984 Penguin Plays
In "Equus," which took critics and public alike by storm and has gone on to become a modern classic, Peter Shaffer depicts the story of a deranged youth who blinds six horses with a spike. Through a psychiatrist's analysis of the events, Shaffer creates a chilling portrait of how materialism and convenience have killed our capacity for worship and passion and, consequently, our capacity for pain. Rarely has a playwrite created an atmosphere and situation that so harshly pinpoint the spiritual and mental decay of modern man.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ...comments on Equus April 4 2002
By Phil
I enjoyed this play very much and have read it several times. Each time I read the play I grasp a better understanding of what Shaffer may be conveying to the audience. This play made me ask so many questions about society today and what some of the truths are in life.
I do not believe this play to be about materialism or convenience and the killing of our capacity for worship, passion, or pain. Alan had a capacity for worship and passion, just not within the normal boundaries of societies acceptable views. Alan had the capacity for pain, but reached his climax when in the stable and blinded the six horses. If man is materialistic it is because the opportunity presents itself and we are already that way. There is no spiritual or mental decay of modern man. Religion flourishes as it always has, and causes peace and war as it always will. We know more now than we ever did in the past about medicine, science, the arts, humanity, the origin of man, and life itself.
In the case of Alan, he suffers from mental illness, but can be healed with love and passion from those around him; Dysart being the one to take the first step and not giving up on him. Worship is not a human need, but the freedom of worship is a human right. I believe this play to hold these truths; the human need for understanding, compassion, and healing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Chilling Mystery Dec 22 2001
Imagine this:
Step one: take an Agatha Christie novel
Step two: mix in a bit of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Step three: add a little bit of sexual innuendo
Step four: add very distinct and creepy staging
Step five: add religion
Final Step: add horses and...
you've got Equus- a chilling mystery about a lunatic who blinds horses because of...well, now that would be telling the ending of the mystery, wouldn't it!
A must read for anybody mature enough to read it (13+ probably)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frightening, yet powerful Dec 17 2001
Equus is a hard-hitting dramatic work that will make readers question their beliefs in mental illness, religion (particularly Christianity), and the emotional and spiritual emptiness described in most adults as 'normal behavior.' Schaffer achieves a nearly unthinkable task at making his audience almost feel sympathy for Alan, a young man who has cruelly blinded six horses.
Along Dysart's (the psychiatrist who must discover why Alan has committed such a horrible crime) and the reader's journey through Alan's tortured life and mind, the reader comes to partially understand and all but accept Alan's deed as a man's faith betraying him. Dysart, paralelling Alan in the 'normal' world, experiences that loss of worship in a far different, yet equally devastating manner.
I suggest seeing the play performed if at all possible. Seeing Equus live-action truly brings it's horrific brilliance to life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the masterpieces of contemporary theater March 27 2001
This is one of the most dense, hard-hitting, catharsis-inducing, adjective-provoking works of modern theater and a keynote in contemporary literature. From the pen that scribbled the likes of Amadeus, Shaffer confronts such topics as teen sexuality, childhood imprinting and its effects upon later life, the sociology of religion, and other complex ideas in an interesting, visually stunning work. A great work from a great writer. I place this alongside other 20-th century theatrical masterpieces such as Miller's Death of a Salesman, Norman's 'Night Mother, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Baraka's The Dutchman, and Sartre's No Exit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Believe it or not, a page turner!! Aug. 9 2000
By A Customer
This play was incredible!! I chose to read it because Peter Shaffer was one of the authors on my AP English list. Usually literature for school is boring and dull, but this is not. From the first scene to the last, I was unable to put it down. There is so much to the play; it's really quite eerie. I especially liked the play (besides the fact that it is interesting) because there was so much to analyze and ways to "take it." Usually it is hard to interpret works, but this one is so complex, the reader muct pick on some meaning. I really hope to see the play on stage. Sure, the play is "out there" but I recommend it highly!! For those who would like a summary, it is about a boy named Alan who is sent to Dr. Dysart (psychiatrist) instead of prison (he blinded 6 horses). What happens during the play is that Dysart tries different ways to get Alan (who is difficult) to speak about his experiences. Alan has a passion for horses and this passion makes Dysart rethink his own life. My advice: just read it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerfull May 31 2000
I hate reading with a pasion and the only reason I have read this is because that is is one of our set works . It is a very powerfull book Due to it having all the relivant topics . Religeon , sex ,love and parenting and how it is all involved in this book . The charicters are all real people in todays world bataling with thse things . Dysart is the most important charicter in the book due to him having to treat and battle with dealing with these patiants . It is a spelbinding book due to all the powerfull charichters in it . There is also many underlying plots in this play and this must also say somthing about the writer . To end off I must just say I hate reading but this is an acception .
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Play
Equus is a powerful play dealing with a myriad of issues including psychiatry, love, crime, insanity and family in a compact and readable manner. Read more
Published on May 30 2000 by Adam Shah
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer disturbing brilliance......
As the most well-known and acclaimed of Shaffer's plays, Equus definitely makes that reputation obvious as soon as you open the pages. Read more
Published on April 27 2000 by Clay Bacon
5.0 out of 5 stars The eyes of the beholder.......
Schaffer's play about the blinding of stabled horses by a young man professed to have a deep love for horses is both disturbing and spell-binding. Read more
Published on April 12 2000 by Dudley Ristow
5.0 out of 5 stars He blinded six horses with a metal spike...
My GCSE (16+ exams) English coursework title - "What makes 'Equus' a powerful play?" After rattling on for 6 sides, I realised that I was never going to have enough time,... Read more
Published on March 18 2000 by Sarah Perkin
5.0 out of 5 stars This is why I'm in theatre!
Equus was the first of Shaffer's works that I had read and I'm happy for the opportunity. This play IS theatre; if you're not ready to be impacted, put this one down! Read more
Published on March 4 2000 by D. Landrum
5.0 out of 5 stars A Frightening Realisation
It is a pleasure of mine, as Head of the Faculty of English at Baltimore University, to occasionally come across such fine writing as Shaffer's Equus. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2000 by Dr J. Evans Pritchard
5.0 out of 5 stars What a play!
I only read this book because it was a required text on my Year 12 (final year high school) syllabus, but it has totally changed my thinking on society as we know it. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 1999
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