One of the most bizzare plays I’ve read was Peter Shaffer’s Equus. It is a remarkable work and one of my favorite plays. There is a film version, which does manage to do it some justice, but still leaves some things out. I recently watched the film and one phrase stuck with me and I wrote this to expand on it a little. Note that Equus is about a boy who is mentally damaged and the doctor who must cure him, even as he himself questions his own sanity.
The Death of a Thousand Gods:
Listen. I know who you are. You look upon me, wanting to know me, to touch me. The feeling is in your head, you want to reach for me, but you are afraid, of the finger tips touching, making it feel too real. Instead you tie yourself up, naked and staring you want me more now than before. Your god is dead and and darkened in the beyond, he feels no passion, does not hear the urgency in your prayers. He has abandoned you to me. We are alone here in the forest of your dreams. You are young and only you can hear me in this world. The sounds and ecstasy of a thousand gods all feeling you at once, showing you truth and holding you both as child and lover.
But from the outer reaches, you hear the other’s voice, telling you that you are in pain and that you need to be cured. He tells you he will save you from this torment, from my embrace. You look upon my eyes, innocent you know them, this is love, this is the passion of the gods. They will not betray you. Do not feel ashamed of me or where we have been.
You cry, and in your mumblings I know that you have begun to pull away to the other. And as you do, I see you already on the alter, another soul to be sacrificed to the logic and reasoning of a dead god. The other will take you upon the stone and carve you open, leaving you hollow and bleeding, without my love you will live and grow old in both storm and clear. But your soul will be blind and desolate. Deaf! Do you know you will be killing a thousand gods as you pull yourself away! The cross is burning in the distance, the other awaits you there, crying behind his mask. If I can’t have you, I will take him. For as he draws you out of this meadow, he will stumble and in his fragile nature, I will know him and he will hear me, the dark pathetic old man that he is. He will save you and cure your pain, but you will never be a boy again, nor know the voices of a thousand gods.