NEW YORK (Reuters) - The actor who portrays the schoolboy wizard in the Harry Potter movies received as much attention for appearing naked as for his range and depth in the London production of playwright Peter Shaffer’s “Equus.”
Daniel Radcliffe is now reprising the role on Broadway, and this time reviewers are concentrating on his able performance in the play first performed at the National Theater in London in 1973.
Ben Brantley of The New York Times said Radcliffe, 19, wore his part of a suburban stableboy who commits grotesque crimes against horses “like a tailor’s delight — that is, a natural fit that allows room to stretch.”
“Like many beloved film actors Mr. Radcliffe has an air of heightened ordinariness, of the everyday lad who snags your attention with an extra, possibly dangerous gleam of intensity,” wrote Brantley, adding his “Alsatian-blue gaze” helped his convincing performance.
USA Today carried the headline “‘Equus’: Radcliffe revealed as a serious actor” as reviewer Elysa Gardner said “the Harry Potter star puts to rest any arguments that his appeal should be limited to moony adolescents and maudlin grown-ups.”
Like other reviewers, Gardner said Radcliffe’s performance outshone the production.
“In his impressive debut in a major stage role, as the disturbed adolescent in ‘Equus,’ Daniel Radcliffe significantly helps overcome the fact that Peter Shaffer’s 1975 Tony winner doesn’t entirely hold up,” said Variety.
While most reviews centered on praising Radcliffe’s performance, some made reference to the nakedness that caused such a stir in London.
“Radcliffe, despite the visceral physicality of the role, appears supremely comfortable in his own skin — and yes, kids, thanks to the nude scene, we get to see all of it,” said Newsday’s reviewer Linda Winer, who also called the London-born Radcliffe “a smart, intense, wildly serious stage talent.”
Variety noted Radcliffe had been criticized by some London critics for a lack of vocal control but said an extra year and a half of maturity may have helped.
“His delivery here is as confident and compelling as his febrile physicality — whether fully clothed and wary or naked and defenseless,” said David Rooney.
Brantley noted the similarity between Radcliffe’s role in “Equus” and that of Harry Potter with both characters coming of age “in a menacing, magical world where the prospect of being devoured by darkness is always imminent.”
Radcliffe will return to the boy wizard role soon when he begins filming the final Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Editing by Daniel Trotta and Xavier Briand