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Clive Barnes of the New York Post described Radcliffe's performance as "beautifully understated and withdrawn," and said that the actor "has just the right manner for this horribly mixed-up adolescent."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

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