Yesterday’s Standard ran a page three feature, and today’s Telegraph has it on page five, that is tantamount to generous free advertising for the new production of Equus that is heading to the West End next month: pictures of the now 17-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, stripped to the waist (and apparently below), against a beautiful white horse. It may be fascinating to watch an actor literally growing up in public, as we’ve watched him progress from Harry Potter to the first emerging signs of manhood with whispy signs of chest hair and a cluster around his belly button, too, but I’m also worried that he’s being fetishized and sexualised, too, ahead of time. Given that the play is about a boy channelling his sexuality in his love for horses, the publicity images may be appropriate; but there’s something also something disconcerting about the boy growing up so visibly.
As the producer David Pugh told the Standard, “We had never seen him with clothes off before. We all went ‘wow’. Thea [Sharrock, the director] went ‘Oh My God’.” And there was relief, too: “When we did the audition we never thought to say, ‘Would you go naked for us?’ We were so overwhelmed with his talent that we set that aside’.”
He wasn’t, after all, auditioning for Puppetry of the Penis, though. (Though who knows? After Celebrity Big Brother, perhaps Puppetry’s producer David Johnson could try a version of Celebrity Puppetry of the Penis. Colin Farrell, your casting call has come!)
In an age where we are surrounded by sexual images everywhere, it’ s probably no surprise that there’s this kind of blanket coverage when even Harry Potter strips. I suppose we grow up faster nowadays. But he’s barely a year beyond the age of consent, so just over a year ago such images would have had the child porn police knocking at the door. Expect the dirty man (and woman) brigade to be buying those tickets fast now….