Art for entertainment's sake

Warhorse Show Review

warhorse show

War Horse is a play that is based on the 1982 children’s book written by Michael Morpurgo. The  play was first shown at The National Theatre in 2007, while it is now showing to packed audiences night after night in the West End of London at The New London Theatre. In reality War Horse does not seem the type of story that could be successfully brought to the stage. So, what makes this superb show unique? Let’s take alook at the production in more detail.

The Story

War Horse is an amazing story about a horse named Joey who is bought by the army during World War I in order to be transported to the battlefields of France. Albert, Joey’s former owner is devastated and strives to bring the horse safely back home. Joey in the meantime sees active service, while his rider a captain in the army is killed leaving Joey to witness much bloodshed and fighting before eventually being abandoned in No Mans Land.

Albert sets off on a dangerous mission to try to find the horse and bring him home. War Horse is a story filled with love and passion portraying the affection that man can hold for an animal whereby he would risk life and limb to protect him. Many millions of horses saw active services during World War I with many millions of horses killed as a result. The story of War Horse has poigniancy that is palpable in both the book and this sterling theatre production, while it also feels like a fitting remembrance vehicle for the many brave men and their mounts who laid down their lives to secure our freedom.

The Production

When Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet Company came up with the idea of bringing the story of War Horse to the stage little did he realise that he would have a long running winning formula on his hands. This extremely moving story about a young boy and his horse is brought to life in an amazing fashion by the use of life sized horse puppets that look so real the audience feels like they can hear the animals breathing as they rear up on the stage. The puppetry is awe inspiring but at the same time does not overshadow the subject matter of the story that is set against the horror of World War I.

Such is the realism of the production that audiences find themselves in tears as the destiny of the horses is fulfilled, while sentimentality and the hope that Joey will survive against the odds keeps audiences on edge right through to the very end of the show. These puppet creations are nothing short of magnificent and have to be seen to be believed, as believable they are, such is the design and mastery of these equine creations.

Musically the songs and accompanying score to War Horse are fabulous creating atmosphere and grandeur that really bring out the mood of the piece. Stirring pieces written by Adrian Sutton along with songs by John Tams who is a prolific folk music composer, the score to War Horse is superb.

War Horse has received critical acclaim from many quarters including Broadway where the production opened to awesome reviews. We have read many reviews of this production and found none that are negative in any way, indeed most reviews heap nothing but praise on the shows wonderful story telling and pupeteering mastery.

The Cast

Sion Daniel Young……….Albert Narracott

Alex Avery………………..Captain Nicholls

Ewen Cummins…………..Chapman Carter/Col Strauss/Soldat Schmidt

Pieter Lawman……………John Greig

Reviews

The Times………………….Be sure not to miss this stunning show

Detroit Free Press………..War Horse on the stage is a stunner!

Accolades and Awards

Best play Tony Awards 2011

Olivier Awards 2008………Nominated for Best Play, Best Director, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design. Won Best Theatre Choreographer Toby Sedgewick. Best Set Design Rae Smith Handspring Puppet Company.

Olivier Awards 2010………Audience Award

Sounds like War Horse is the type of play that is once seen never forgotten! This magical stage interpretation of the children’s book looks set to run and run giving those of us who have yet to have the pleasure time to catch a performance while we still can!