Sunday, 16 June 2013

War Horse Review

**Spoiler Alert**
If you haven't seen the play, seen the film or read the book of War Horse or if you don't know the ending then its probably best that you skip this post.


For Mother's Day I bought my mum and Gran tickets to see War Horse on stage in the New London Theatre on Drury Lane. I've read the book by Michael Morpurgo, an author whom I hold in very high esteem, and I've seen the film adaptation which was directed by Steven Spielberg. I really enjoyed both of them. I thought that the story was pretty historically accurate and informative with a great deal of emotion and enough action to keep even my nineteen-year-old brother interested. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to seeing this play and it did not disappoint.

The horses were played by puppets and they were amazing. I had to remind myself throughout the play that they weren't real. It wasn't so much their appearance which made them so lifelike, it was their movements and characteristics. I never knew so much character and comedy could be captured by the flick of a tail or the toss of a head.

The two main horses Joey (pictured, brown) and Topthorn (pictured, black) both had a different framework so even if they were the same size, Topthorn was slightly taller than Joey, and colour you could have told them apart. As you can see from the photo, there was no attempt at hiding the pupeteers and I found that quite refreshing. It was like the director was saying 'Look, you aren't stupid, you know that they are puppets so lets just save everyone the hassle and just have the pupeteers on show'. They were mostly dressed in tweed farming apparel but it was amazing how quickly they became invisible, I hardly noticed them.

Another one of the puppets in the play which must get a mention is the goose. You can see a picture of it here. It was a really funny character, and the puppeteer in charge of him could make some amazing goose noises!


The music used in the stage show made it so emotive. Theatres always make me a bit weepy, I think its the atmosphere, and there was certainly no abundance of tears that afternoon. The lighting effects and music were extremely vivid at times and really made you tense, especially the battle scenes and when Joey gets stuck in no man's land.

Due to this I did wonder how suitable it was for children. It is a children's book originally and a lot of people had brought their children to watch it, most were aged ten and up. There were gunshots which were really loud and made me jump out of my skin. When the music built up to a crescendo and the lighting began to flash and strobe the overall effect was quite fervent, terrifying for a child I would imagine. The story is so sad in parts too, could a child have coped with that? I however watched My Dog Skip as a child and was scarred by that. If you've seen it then you know what I mean.

The only part which disappointed me was that they left out the auction at the end. I suppose 'enjoyed' is the wrong word to use but I thought it was a very emotive part in the film, it added to the tense ending. Also, I'm a sucker for a good old weepy bit!

Overall an 8/10.

Have you seen the play? Did you enjoy it?

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