From the marvellous children’s book by Michael Morpugo, which was inspired by a painting, has come one of the most appealingly poignant theatre productions in recent times. The theatre production of War Horse has brought one of the most terrible periods of recent history onto the stage with a simple, beautiful story of love, war, friendship, determination, and bravery as told through the eyes of Joey the horse.
As a young foal, Joey is sold into a happy but poor farming family where he grows up very close to Albert, the farmer’s son. As war breaks out, Joey is taken away to the front line, like so many other horses at that time. The story travels through the horrors of war which are all too real, with hardships and death shown creatively and imaginatively not only in the action on the stage but also cleverly in the art which makes up the set. At the same time the story weaves a ray of hope and shows insights into the humanities on both sides of the conflict, as we follow Albert’s quest to find Joey in the front line of war-torn France. The end of the war finally comes.
You cannot help but be amazed at the true genius of puppetry, art and acting as it seduces and overawes the senses. After the first five minutes of admiring the engineering of the puppet horses, you forget they are puppets and they become real, so real that you feel every breath they take. The atmosphere created is brilliant and totally engaging and the three hour show is over in a flash. You will be impressed, you will be moved and you will all love Joey. Well done for bringing this history to all of us, but in particular for making a hard subject accessible to young people in such a compelling way. Lest we forget, it should be a compulsory experience for everyone over the age of 10!
By Mo Cuthbert