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Equus in the Judi Dench Playhouse at The Questors Theatre

Nick Thomas in Equus at The Questors Theatre
Nick Thomas in Equus at The Questors Theatre

Peter Shaffer’s 1975 Tony Award-winning play follows psychiatrist Martin Dysart as he tackles the disturbing case of Alan Strang. As Dysart begins to unravel the circumstances behind these distressing events he finds his skills stretched to the limit and his own values challenged.

The Questors production of Equus runs from 11th to 18th April in the Judi Dench Playhouse at The Questors Theatre. The play was revived successfully in the West End in 2008 with Daniel Radcliffe as Strang and Richard Griffiths as Dysart.

Equus is directed for The Questors by Simon Rudkin: “It’s a thriller. Shaffer holds the tension beautifully. There’s not a wasted moment, not a wasted word. It is a fantastic piece of writing.

Simon relishes the challenges Equus presents: “What could drive a person to commit that sort of crime? That’s what Shaffer is exploring.” Rehearsals are well underway: “The cast and crew are brilliant. A lot of hard work is coming together.

Nick Thomas, pictured, plays Alan Strang. “He’s a very awkward seventeen year old boy. He doesn’t get on well with people.” The part calls for the actor to appear naked in one scene. “It’s impossible to be more open and vulnerable,” says Nick, “than to be alone and naked on stage, playing a character who tries to hide his vulnerabilities to the extent Alan does. The play is fascinating and it’s shaping up to be absolutely fantastic. A real feast.

John Dobson, a Questors member since 1981, plays Martin Dysart. “Dysart is having doubts about the validity of his work. He has given up on the world, he feels he hasn’t really lived. And then Alan is brought to him. He goes on a journey with the boy and discovers a lot more about himself. It’s a thumping good story, full of surprises.

They are joined by a strong ensemble cast and a brilliant creative team.

Equus is suitable for ages 16+. It contains theatrical violence, explicit sexuality and nudity, and smoking.
Equus: 11-18 April at 7.45pm, Sunday matinee 12 April at 2.30pm. Tickets £13, £12 concessions, £7 under 16s / students. Final Friday, Saturday tickets £15, £14 concessions, £8 under 16s / students. To book tickets and for more information about getting involved with Questors, visit www.ealingtheatre.com

The Questors is a leading amateur theatre company and has about 1400 members drawn from across west London, of whom about 600 perform on stage and work backstage. It was founded in Ealing in 1929, and has been resident in its current Mattock Lane site since 1933.

The venue’s flexible Judi Dench Playhouse, which seats 350, was one of the first purpose-built British theatres after the war (probably the first to be designed post-war). Plans for it were announced at the Arts Council headquarters in 1955, and subsequently discussed at the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Society of Arts. After a decade of fundraising and building efforts, the new theatre complex was opened in 1964 by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. To mark its 50th anniversary in 2014, it was renamed the Judi Dench Playhouse. The venue also contains a small studio theatre seating about 90.

The current President of The Questors is Dame Judi Dench, who succeeded Sir Michael Redgrave in 1985.
Prominent past members of The Questors or its youth groups include Royal Shakespeare Company and TV actor Oliver Ford Davies; stage and screen actor Anne-Marie Duff; poet, broadcaster and past Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen; theatre director Declan Donnellan; Royal Shakespeare Company, West End and Broadway playwright Peter Whelan; and former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq.

The Questors stages about 15 productions a year, as well as productions by its student group and youth theatre. The company has a long history of supporting new plays, and presented the first production of Tom Stoppard’s Guildenstern & Rosencrantz (as it was then titled) in 1964, and early works by Peter Whelan, James Saunders and Dannie Abse.

Questors Academy offers two part-time training courses for actors, which are highly regarded by acting schools; and also runs a youth theatre that currently caters for about 500 local children and young people.

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