Theatre review: War Horse

Last night I went to the New London Theatre to see War Horse. Now, I've neither read the book by Michael Morpurgo that the play is based on, nor seen the Steven Spielberg movie that came out in 2011, but I had heard very good things about all three so was looking forward to seeing War Horse.

War Horse starts in Devon in the early 1910s where a foal is bought by Ted Narracott to stop his brother from buying it. The horse is given to Ted's son Albert to look after, and he names the foal Joey. War Horse features some rather marvellous puppetry. Joey and the other animals are simply marvellous. Their mannerisms and actions are so convincing that you could easily forget that you're seeing a puppet, of sorts, and not a real animal! The goose is also amazing (and quite a cheeky little thing!).

Anyway, Albert "brings Joey on" but his dad makes a bet with his his brother (Albert's uncle who wanted to buy Joey in the beginning) that Joey can plough a field. Joey is not a cart horse - he's a hunter - but Albert manages to teach him and gets to keep Joey. However, war breaks out and Joey is sold to the army, against Albert's knowledge. Major Nicholls - who also bid on Joey at the start and is fond of sketching him - promises to look after Joey for Albert but when Albert learns Major Nicholls has been killed in action, he joins the army, even though he is underage, in the hope that he might find Joey.

I won't spoil the rest of the story, but I will say that it's a great production. One thing that did happen though during Act I is that they had to stop the performance for about ten minutes and put the house lights back up as Joey had broken his leg! This was about 40 minutes but everyone was so captivated and thrilled with Joey at this point that it was forgiven. The whole production is very atmospheric, especially during Act II, and Act II is quite tense in parts, though it all works out in the end.

War Horse is a really enjoyable play - I must go and read the book now! Have you seen the play or film, or have you read the book? x

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