Following 8-record breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, the National Theatre’s acclaimed play War Horse is currently touring the UK. Last night was the opening night in Liverpool, where it is on until Saturday 17th August.
I have neither read the book, nor watched the film so I was very excited to watch with no preconceived ideas. My friend, on the other hand, has read the book and seen the film so I thought it would be interesting to see what we both thought. In brief – we both loved it!
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, it’s about the love between a boy, Albert Narracott, and Joey, a young horse bought by Albert’s dad with the mortgage money in a fit of drunken bravado. In 1914, Joey is sold to the army as a war horse, and is quickly followed to the filth and misery of northern France by runaway Albert, who’s determined that they will be reunited.
I understand the story was slightly abridged but not to any detriment. For my part, I thought the story was brillant, powerful and moving. The acting was superb with humour, genuine warmth and emotion. The stage was a perfect back drop for the action. Cleverly, a projection screen in the shape of a torn sheet from a scrapbook across the top of stage allowed images to be projected, giving context and atmosphere to the story.
What really blew me away were the puppets. When you think about the story, based on a horse, you do wonder how this can be translated into a theatre show. Handspring Puppet Company were amazing! The horses not only looked beautiful but with the help of the highly talented puppetiers their movements were phenomonal! You forgot that there were people operating them and they looked so realistic down to twitching their ears and flicking their tales – you even saw them breathing – simply breathtaking. I also loved the goose, he added a level of light-heartedness to a serious storyline.
I would highly recommend catching this while it is touring, it is a spectacular show which will move you to tears.
Although based on a children’s story book the advice for the stage show is over tens. Please also be aware that the show contains loud sound FX, gunfire, flashing lights and strobe lighting.
To see when War Horse is coming to a theatre near you visit their website http://www.warhorseonstage.com/.