Peter Shaffer’s 1973 drama adds a psychological twist to the ongoing discussion about violence in our society: What forces propel a seemingly normal young man to an extreme act, in this case the blinding of six horses? Director Liz Carlson’s intimate, atmospheric production highlights the sexual and religious mysteries haunting Dr. Dysart (Curio artistic director Paul Kuhn) as he works to coax out teenager Alan’s (Eric Scotolati) motivations. Kuhn’s in-the-round rustic barn set keeps an audience limited to 75 very close to their therapy sessions, with eerie sound effects created live by a six-actor ensemble who also play the horses, Alan’s parents, medical professionals and many other roles. The tension-filled build to the event is more powerful than the act of violence itself — a deliberate choice, apparently, to focus on the tempestuous forces within Alan, rather than the bloody spectacle of their outburst. Curio makes a strong case for reviving Equus; it’s not merely a powerful story, it’s also unfortunately timely.
Through Feb. 16, $15-$20, Curio Theatre Co. at the Calvary Center, 4740 Baltimore Ave., 215-525-1350, curiotheatre.org.