Based on a children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo (1982), War Horse is the story of young Albert and his equine friend Joey.
Albert gains the scared little foal’s trust and they form a close bond. A few years later, when World War One breaks out and the cavalry are looking for horses to take to France, Albert has to let go of his four-legged friend but keeps hoping for his safe return. When he can’t bear the agonizing uncertainty any longer, he enlists despite being far too young and heads to France in search of Joey.
I love going to the theatre and go to see West End productions on a regular basis. I am also a horse lover (and former horse owner) so when the play ‘War horse’ came to my attention, I knew I had to get tickets! The reviews I had read were all positive and I was really looking forward to the play, wondering though whether the larger-than-life horse puppets would be convincing at all.
They were! Although you can actually see the puppeteers operating their wooden charges, it doesn’t stop you from accepting the puppets as part of the cast.
They neigh, they snort, they canter, carry riders and have their own personalities – just like real horses. Especially the movement of their ears – which horses use to convey moods and emotions and which helps humans understand a horse’s perception of and reaction to the environment – is brilliantly done and helps make the puppets come alive. I was really impressed.
‘War Horse’ is now in its fourth year (and also currently being made into a film, directed by Steven Spielberg). The heart-warming friendship between Albert and his horse and of course the war time setting makes ‘War Horse’ a very emotional play. It’s a story about love, war, loyalty and bravery that appeals to everyone . Add some fantastic special effects and you get a truly spectacular production that you don’t want to miss. But don’t forget to take some tissues!
War Horse is playing at the New London Theatre
Review by Sandra Palme
10th February 2011