Thursday, September 16, 2010

'War Horse' Conquers New London - The Review

'War Horse' at the New London Theatre is one of the hardest tickets to come by in the West End. Apparently this is a huge hit play and the full house this Thursday evening was the proof. A production that I was only curious to see had gained a buzz about it.

This play is a magnificent epic which at its heart is a boy and his dog story. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, this time the pet is a horse. At the outbreak of World War I, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

The play is an engaging and emotional story from start to end beautifully performed by the entire cast. It moves like a film on the thrust stage of the New London Theatre. Even though a play, it boasts moving music by Adrian Sutton and songs by John Tams. The songs evokes the time and place building atmosphere and is better than the songs in some traditional musicals. The sound design adds to the realism for all scenes in the various settings from farm to battleground.

Also an achievement is Joey which is operated by three persons. It will be compared to the animal costumes in ‘The Lion King’ but Joey is on a totally different and higher level. What is cute when we see him as a young horse becomes a majestic stallion shortly before he is drafted for war. With parts to move the tail, eyes, ears and each leg, the animal comes alive on stage. We see what he feels, what he fears and to who he is faithful. Even a lively puppet goose on stage adds comic relief to the farm scenes early in the play.

The war scenes in France are quite horrific and pulls no punches in the reality these soldiers and horses were dealt. These moments combined with others that are awe inspiring and uplifting makes this a must see production for everyone. You will not be disappointed.

A film adaptation of the novel and play will be released in late 2011.  But first this production will land on the stage of the Vivan Beaumont Theatre on Broadway in Spring 2011.


All photos used for illustration purposes only.


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