Based on the 1982 novel of the same name written by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is a simple, yet harrowing and moving story about a young man’s steed which is sold into the cavalry and sent off to help fight the Great War. The story centres around the horse (Joey) and his epic journey through fields of death, enemy fire and horrid gas attacks before his young owner (Albert) risks his own life to bring him home.
Most people wonder how a story about a horse could be taken to the stage, in fact the author even said that he thought the team were mad for trying to turn his story into a full-blown production, but with a little help from the Handspring Puppet Company it is done very well indeed.
The puppets themselves are now very well-known and might not be as much as a surprise to audiences now as they were when the show first premiered in 2007. Yet the movement and details of the puppets (and their masters) is enough to help the audience forget they’re watching puppeteers and become immersed in the story itself. The magic continues, as before the audience’s eyes Joey is transformed from tiny foal into a full-grown adult horse - a magnificent feat and a wonderful addition to the play. The horse puppets add a new dimension to the play which is lacking in their human counterparts, but since Joey is the main star of the show this works perfectly.
The Times said ‘now and then the theatre throws up a piece of work so exhilarating that it makes you rejoice to be alive…’ and they weren’t wrong. War Horse is a truly magnificent, moving piece of theatre that captures the horrors and terrors of the First World War and thrusts the audience into the fray. By the end, you’ll find yourself thoroughly attached to Joey and his plight and a World War 1 tank trundling onto the stage only adds to the magic.
For once the stark realities of war are given a powerful, new stage interpretation worthy of family audiences and a medal!
Published: 21/06/2011 15:43:01