Pure Theatre That’s Heartbreaking and Uplifting
(5 / 5)
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.
War Horse is touring to Melbourne, Sidney, Perth and Singapore until 3 May 2020. More details at www.warhorseonstage.com