The lights come up and there on the stage is Carey Mulligan. No set, just Carey Mulligan.
She’s the only person we’re going to meet for the next hour-and-a-half. She holds our attention for that long. We do see some colourless generic sets occasionally during Girls & Boys at the Royal Court but the main image you are left with is that of a single person alone on a blank set.
It’s a tour-de-force. Yes, she’s very engaging with her twinkling eyes and dimpled smile. But, more than that, she has the skill of seeming to speak directly to you. Her pauses make you hang on her words. Her timing is Olympic stopwatch standard.
Now delivery is one thing but, no matter how great an actor she is, she needs the words- and Dennis Kelly’s play, looking back on the story of a relationship from its light hearted beginning to its devastating end is also a grand achievement. It’s funny, insightful and sharp as a 4K TV. The language is at times rich, almost Rabelaisian, and at others pared down to the bone.
I’m guessing that the director Lindsey Turner made a major contribution to this triumphant production. It begins like standup comedy and ends like the bottom has fallen out of the world. Paralleling the course of the woman’s relationship, I began roaring with laughter and ended in shock.
Girls & Boys with Carey Mulligan at the Royal Court continues until 17 March 2018
Here’s the review from One Minute Theatre Reviews on YouTube-
If, like me, your first experience of professional theatre was a puppet show, you may be surprised that a story for children featuring puppets should be a huge theatrical hit.
Don’t let anything you’ve seen before put you off. The quality of the puppets in the National Theatre production of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse is extraordinary, a world away from Sooty with Harry Corbett. In the hands of their expert operators, the wooden frames are capable of the most subtle and realistic movements. Using the power of the imagination, it is pure theatre. I would recommend getting a seat close to the stage in order to catch all the detail.
Near the front, you’ll also feel right in the middle of the frightening battle scenes which, partly thanks to Rae Smith‘s imaginative design and Paule Constable‘s dramatic lighting, create the horror and chaos of war before your eyes.
The direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris and the script by Nick Stafford deserve credit for turning Morpurgo’s brilliant story, which was written from a horse’s point of view with children in mind, into a tale of love, courage and hope that resonates with all ages.
While telling the story of a farm animal enlisted by the army to take part in the First World War and his owner’s attempts to find him, it is also the tale of the common humanity of the people who were forced to fight each other.
Before we are transported to France, we experience wonderful heartwarming scenes conjuring up the pre-war age of a countryside where working animals were at the heart of farming.
War Horse is uplifting at times and, at others, heartbreaking. Make sure you take a hankie.