« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Critics spellbound by Radcliffe's Broadway debut in 'Equus'

September 26, 2008 | 11:52 am

Daniel Radcliffe Daniel Radcliffe has cast a sorcerer's spell over hard-to-please New York critics in his Broadway debut as the psychologically disturbed stable boy of Peter Shaffer's "Equus," now at the Broadhurst Theatre.

But the production itself -- which has generated endless buzz because it requires Radcliffe to take it all off -- has left some reviewers saying that Shaffer's 1973 Tony-winning drama no longer seems as original or insightful as it once did.

Variety's David Rooney said the play "is an astute career move for the 'Harry Potter' frontman as he confidently navigates the transition from child stardom to adult roles." He added that Radcliffe "provides 'Equus' with a raw emotional nerve center that renders secondary any concerns about its wonky and over-explanatory psychology."

The New York Times' Ben Brantley wrote that Radcliffe "steps into a mothball-preserved, off-the-rack part and wears it like a tailor’s delight." He remarked on the actor's "Alsatian-blue gaze" and added that "[t]here’s no question that 'Equus' has dated, particularly in its presentation of psychiatric investigations."

Clive Barnes of the New York Post described Radcliffe's performance as "beautifully understated and withdrawn," and said that the actor "has just the right manner for this horribly mixed-up adolescent."

And Linda Winer of Newsday proclaimed that Radcliffe has "bravely established himself as a smart, intense, wildly serious stage talent." But she added that the play "always was pretty much of a crock -- pseudo-serious humanity-on-trial hokum dressed up in mythic profundity."

Critics also praised costar Richard Griffiths (a Tony winner for "The History Boys") for his portrayal of the boy's psychologist. Elysa Gardner of USA Today wrote that "Griffiths' stringent Dysart defies the sentimentality woven into the heavier passages, enhancing the production's authority and dignity."

— David Ng

Photo credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (12)

Wow, maybe he can fix the stock market too!

I am glad for Radcliffe, may he have continued success. As for the critic Linda Winer of Newsday, all I can say is whatever mind altering substance she is using please may I have some! Her comment and I quote: "always was pretty much of a crock -- pseudo-serious humanity-on-trial hokum dressed up in mythic profundity." beggars belief!!!! Good God woman, how long did it take you to come with that in order to justify your most probably way over the top salary to provide such drivel. Tell it how it is, not ponce it up!!
I must now retreat to my tantric sanctum before I burst a blood vessel!!

Radcliffe still making his living waving his wand...

I would invest in Daniel Radcliffe stock right now. I am glad that the younger generation has revealed an actor of such profound talent. You can actually see him get better with each Harry Potter movie which indicates that he must also practice his butt off. In interviews he comes accross as a gounded, and intelligent young man. I think that if the media gives him the space, privacy and respect that they have denied many younger actors of his age, then we can expect him to join the ranks of top actors of our time. Good luck Daniel!

@Pardon? -
I once saw a great cartoon about Oliver Stone, in which he says "First, Art. Second, Truth. Never let Second interfere with First." The same can be applied to Peter Shaffer.

I love Shaffer for "Amadeus", but its historicity was always a joke (sadly, a lot of fans now believe that Salieri killed Mozart.)
"Equus", on the other hand, never seemed to me to have much going for it, except the full-frontal aspects. As far as realism is concerned, it makes "The Prince of Tides" look like the DSM-IV.

None of this is a comment on Radcliffe (I haven't seen the performance) - and I think that if you re-read Winer's review, you'll see that she's not referring to him either, but to the play.

The London West End production of this play was amazing. If you are fortunate enough to live in the New York area don't miss this play!!! Daniel Radcliffe's performance is worthy of an American Tony and I sincerely hope he is afforded one for his Broadway debut.

More nudity on Broadway !

To hear that Daniel Radcliffe is making the transition from child star to serious adult actor is one of the highlights of this time. In each Harry Potter movie you see the growth that he musters, and for him to now spread his wings and take on more serious roles is a delight. I hope that he continues to grow as an actor and a person, for without growing as a person, he will never attain the true measure of greatness as an actor that he will have.

full frontal nudity always sells, and on broadway its not sex, its art.

Wow, what a shining example for today's youth, especially all the younger fans of Harry Potter.
"Nudity is okay, mom, because Harry Potter does it."
Maybe he is transitioning from "childhood star" to "serious adult actor", but he's making the "transition" at the wrong time. Maybe he is really that talented, but taking on this kind of role with Harry Potter movies still in developement is an irresponsible move.

Sad to see this great young talent used to sell a poorly written play which seems only to have the redeeming quality of full-frontal nudity (if you followed the press releases, previews, and reviews). Daniel was foolish to allow himself to be used in such a way, but alas, he gets richer. Maybe that's what he really wants.

Jackola you are one intolerant,maybe you are VERY jealous of his success and he is NOT Harry Potter,he IS one actor doing a role in a play,is not porn and the kids CAN'T see this play.


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.